Taking Hawaii one step closer to educational reform, a Legislative committee today passed a bill onto the House and Senate floors that would increase the minimum number of school days for Hawaii’s keiki from 180 days to 190 days, with a phase-in beginning in 2015 (an earlier report mistakenly reported the new requirement was to be 200 days). The current school year, with Furlough Fridays, is 163 days.

The committee also passed a measure that would require the Hawaii State Board of Education to be appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle. The board’s appointment has been a contentious issue as the governor and the teachers’ union continue to disagree over how to end Furlough Fridays.

House Bill 2377 would give the governor the power to appoint the board of education, whose members are currently elected by voters. The board decides educational policy and puts together the budget for the state department of education.

Both measures still need to be approved by the Legislature. If the amendment is approved, it would go on the ballot in November.

It’s interesting that the committee passed both measures before discussing how the department would be able to pay for the extra school days when it can’t even afford the current school year.

All this took place in a crowded, hot room packed full of lobbyists, teachers, union officials, parents and students, where it was hard to hear committee members as they spoke and voted. They also delayed a much-anticipated vote about raiding the Hurricane Relief Fund to end Furlough Fridays.

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