Committee approves $67 million to try to end Furlough Fridays

Late Friday night, negotiators from the House and Senate reached an agreement that, if approved by the Legislature, could reduce the number of Furlough Fridays for students.

Students have lost 14 days of instruction this school year due to furloughs, with three more on the calendar. Another 17 are scheduled for next year.

The bill would allow the Legislature to take $67 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund to help put children back in school. The amount exceeds the $62 million Gov. Linda Lingle proposed earlier this year, and falls nearly $30 million short of the board of education's request, per its tentative agreement with the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

If the bill passes the House and Senate, the governor would have to decide to release the funds. Then the board and union would have to reach a new agreement based on the available funds.

Assuming all that works out, that would get students back to the 180-day school year standard. And it's still not clear exactly how the department of education is expected to afford the new 190 school-day requirement the committee approved earlier Friday.

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