The blueprint lays out priorities including boosting math and reading skills as well as recruiting more teachers.

The Hawaii Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved a new strategic plan laying out a vision and goals for the state’s 258 public schools over the next six years.

The blueprint is based on substantial input from parents, teachers, students, principals, elected officials and higher education affiliates in a bid to move beyond pandemic-era challenges.

“This plan will help us to focus our efforts and resources in areas with the greatest challenges, including recovering from the loss of learning, especially for our most vulnerable students, ensuring schools are fully staffed, and addressing the plight of our aging school facilities,” BOE Chair Bruce Voss said in a news release.

The Hawaii Board of Education approved its strategic plan. The Department of Education must now determine how to implement it. (Viola Gaskell/Civil Beat/2022)

Priorities include providing high-quality learning, recruiting more teachers and ensuring all school facilities are safe and compliant with the law. The new plan also sets goals for all students to be proficient in reading by the end of the third grade and adept at math by the end of the eighth grade. 

But how that will come to fruition will be up to the Department of Education, which has three months to develop an implementation plan to present to the board for approval. The department previously raised concerns about the board possibly micromanaging its plan, but the nine-member panel reiterated that its job is to question and approve the plan. 

Cheri Nakamura, director of the education advocacy group He’e Coalition, said people are less skeptical about this plan than in previous years. 

“The board did quite a bit of community engagement this time,” Nakamura said in a phone interview. “They took time to meet with the community, came up with key questions and key priorities.”

She said the public would have to wait and see what the department will come up with in May.

The last strategic plan was approved in 2017. In 2020, the 2030 Promise Plan was presented under former Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, but it was never approved.

The first phase of the plan included community meetings held by the board last year during which parents said they need more of a voice in the education system. The board also issued two surveys for public input, garnering nearly 13,000 responses.

“The second phase of the strategic planning process will be critical as we work together with our entire tri-level team — state offices, complex areas and schools — to determine how best to implement our shared goals, and measure meaningful progress. It will take all of us working together, in the spirit of ne’epapa, to make this plan a reality and ensure all students reach their fullest potential,” Superintendent Keith Hayashi said in a news release. 

Civil Beat’s education reporting is supported by a grant from Chamberlin Family Philanthropy.

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