Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Teach for America instructors gather at the Pahala campus cafeteria to learn about rural schools. Photo by Julia Neal
TEACH FOR AMERICA could lose so much funding that it may have to shut down its Big Island office. The funding cut could threaten the number of teachers the nonprofit organization supplies to Ka`u. Teach for America recruited, trained and supports nine of the 47 teachers this year at Ka`u High & Pahala Elementary. It also provides one of the 35 teachers at Na`alehu School. 
      Teach for America depends on partial state funding. However, as the state budget nears completion, with negotiations in the Legislature this and next week, the state Senate has dropped the $870,000 that Teach for America has received from the state in each of the last two years. The state House of Representatives has cut the appropriation in half even though Teach for America raises four dollars for every dollar provided by the state.
      The majority of donors are locally based. Others include those with local ties, such as the Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation. The Schwabs have a home on the Big Island.
Teach for America executive director
Jill Baldemor grew up in Hawai`i.
      According to Teach for America Director of Development and External Partnerships Alex Teece, about $51,000 is invested in each teacher over the two years. About a third of the Teach for America instructors in Hawai`i this year are Native Hawaiian or kama`aina, and the organization is partnering with UH-Hilo to recruit more teachers who grew up here, said Teece.
      Teach for America brought more than 60 teachers to Ka`u last year to explore the community and Ka`u High & Pahala Elementary School campus in its effort to place young teachers into the hardest posts to fill in public school systems for two-year stints.
      Marshallese students at Ka`u Intermediate guided the visiting teachers through the campus, along with principal Sharon Beck, and talked about their dreams for higher education.
      The young teachers learned about local culture. The Ka`u Calendar newspaper editor Julia Neal talked about the rich environmental, cultural and family lives of students fortunate enough to live in Ka`u.
      One Teach for America instructor stationed at Na`alehu talked about the glow in the faces of her young students when they come back to the classroom after a weekend with their families, ranching, fishing and enjoying the other outdoor and cultural activities of Ka`u.
      The teachers also took a walk to the Boys & Girls Club in Pahala and visited Pahala Plantation House and Ka`u Coffee Mill.
      Teach for America’s Hawai`i executive director Jill Baldemor accompanied the group. She grew up in Hawai`i, lived outside the state for a number of years for education and work, and came back to help Hawai`i’s youth.
      The Teach for America website at teachforamerica.org/where-we-work/Hawaii says: “Now, more than ever, there is energy and urgency around transforming the educational landscape of our state. With tremendous community support, new leadership in the Board of Education and Department of Education, and Race to the Top reform efforts, momentum is building in Hawai`i. ... At this critical moment we are excited to be partnering with our communities to give all of Hawai`i’s children the opportunity to receive the education they deserve.”
       Letters of support can be sent to lissette.roman@teachforamerica.org. Mail to 500 Ala Moana Blvd, Suite 3-400, Honolulu HI 96813.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Ka`u Hospital is in HHSC's East Hawai`i Region. Photo by Julia Neal
HAWAI`I HEALTH SYSTEMS CORP.’S East Hawai`i Region, which includes Ka`u Hospital & Rural Health Clinic, expects to come up short this year by just under $5 million unless the state provides additional funding, according to a story in Hawai`i Tribune-Herald
      HHSC is seeking emergency appropriations from the state Legislature. Senate Bill 2866, which requests funding for facilities across Hawai`i, has passed the Senate and House and is expected to be heard by a conference committee.
      Colin M. Stewart reports HHSC Acting President and CEO Alice M. Hall saying a large part of the shortfall is a result of the most recent collective bargaining decision approving raises for hospital workers.
      Declining Medicare reimbursements and federal sequestration cuts have also taken their toll, Stewart said. In testimony to the Legislature, Gary Yoshiyama, chair of HHSC’s East Hawai`i Regional Board, said, “Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement reductions have significantly impacted our region as Medicare and Medicaid patients make up approximately 76 percent of our patients.”
      He also said, “We continue to review and reduce operational expenditures, delay major initiatives where possible and delay payments to vendors. Patient service volumes are up, reimbursements are down, expense cutting measures are implemented, expenses continue to raise, and payables are delayed. The emergency appropriation is a short-term measure to continue provision of accessible quality health care within our regions.”
     Progress of this and other bills can be tracked at capitol.hawaii.gov.
     To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.  

STATE HOUSE LAWMAKERS PASSED AN AMENDED Senate bill Tuesday that would raise the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour by 50 cents beginning next year, followed by annual 75-cent raises until reaching $10 per hour in 2018.
      SB2609 SD1 HD2 also raises the existing tip credit, the amount an employer can withhold from wages of those who also earn tips, to 50 cents next year and 75 cents in 2016, provided that the combined amount the employee receives in wages and tips is at least $7 more than the applicable minimum wage.
      Progress of this and other bills can be tracked at capitol.hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

David Louie
THE STATE OF HAWAI`I WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE health benefits to Ka`u’s Marshallese community and other state Compact of Free Association residents until a full and final resolution of the issues in a lawsuit is reached, announced Attorney General David M. Louie. “The state will make sure that COFA residents continue to have uninterrupted access to their health benefits while this lawsuit is pending,” Louie said. 
      Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit ruled that when Congress enacted the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 and eliminated all federal funding for health benefits for COFA residents, the state of Hawai`i could not be mandated to fund the federal government’s portion of the benefits. “The Ninth Circuit’s decision confirms that the federal government cannot impose a duty on states to perform a function for which it does not provide funds,” Louie said.
      The ruling was a preliminary finding by the appellate court; there are still other proceedings that may occur.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

      State Senate District Three and Representative District Five cover Na`alehu, Wai`ohinu, Ocean View and north into Kona. Current Sen. Josh Green, of Kailua-Kona, and Michael Last, of Na`alehu, have pulled papers for the Senate. Gubernatorial appointee and current Rep. Richard Creagan, of Na`alehu; Gene Leslie, of Holualoa; and Steve Sakala, of Kealakekua, are signed up for the House race.
Maile David
Fred Fogel
      The office for Senate District Two, which covers Honu`apo, Punalu`u, Pahala, Volcano and into Hilo, is not on the ballot this year, with Sen. Russell Ruderman in office into 2016.
      State Rep. District Three covers this area. Fred Fogel, of Volcano, is considering running against current Rep. Richard Onishi. Fogel ran for the House of Representatives in the previous two elections, losing to Robert Herkes in 2010 and Richard Onishi in 2012. Fogel has also pulled papers for the Hawai`i County Council District Six race.
      Other potential contenders to replace Brenda Ford, who has reached her term limit, are Richard Eugene Abbett, of Ocean View, and Maile David, of Captain Cook.
      This would be the third time David runs for Council. She was one of four candidates who ran when Brittany Smart won in 2010 and was in a run off when Brenda Ford won in 2012. According to Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, David, who is currently deputy county clerk, has sought an opinion from the Board of Ethics, which meets today, on whether it would be a conflict for her to keep her position while she runs for office. 
      The primary election is on Saturday, Aug 9.
      Deadline for candidates to file papers is Tuesday, June 3 for the primary election.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Lessons in lei making are available Friday.
JULIE EVANS AND LOIS AND EARL STOKES teach an introduction to the meditative drawing practice of Zentangle Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Ni`aulani Campus in Volcano Village. Participants get a solid foundation in the philosophy, ceremony and benefits of tangling. No previous art education or experience is needed. Call 967-8222. 

RANDY LEE OFFERS FREE INSTRUCTION on lei making Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Volcano Art Center Gallery’s porch in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Park entrance fees apply.

KA`U HIGH SCHOOL BOYS VOLLEYBALL fell to the Kamehameha Warriors last night, Tuesday, April 8 at Ka`u High School Gym. Junior Varsity scores were 13-25, 17-25. Varsity Scores were 12-25, 23-25, 20-25. Next match is in Kohala Saturday at 10 a.m.


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