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Memo from State
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Analysis of Ballot Issue - Constitutional Amendment: BOE
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Analysis of Ballot Issue - Constitutional Amendment: BOE

Should the State Constitution continue to specify exactly how the State Board of Education will be selected and precisely who shall select the superintendent of our State Department of Education?

OR

Should the Constitution be less specific, and leave the decision of who selects beard members and the superintendent to sash succeeding session of the legislature?

These are the questions a voter should answer before voting on the proposed referendum on the November ballot dealing with the education Article IX of the State Constitution.

BACKGROUND:

Since the first State Constitution was adopted in 1959 there have been over 50 proposals by legislators to amend the education article.

Relative to other constitutional articles, the education article has undergone the greatest number of changes.

Article IX, Section 2 provides for the selection of the state board of education. Originally, members of the board were appointed by the governor, with the advise and consent of the senate, from a list of nominees submitted by elected local school advisory councils. In 1964 voters approved a constitutional amendment to delete this provision and establish an elected school board.

Article IX, Section 3 originally contained a provision making the superintendent of public instruction an ex officio voting member of the board of education. The 1964 constitutional amendment took away the ex officio voting membership status of the superintendent, changed his title to superintendent of education, and designated him secretary to the board.

In 1968 Hawaii's Constitutional Convention delegates reviewed the education article and upheld the wording passed by the voters in 1964.

Hawaii's first elected state board of education was voted into office in 1966 for a four year term. (Voters will elect board members in November 1970)

The 1970 session of the legislature was alerted to the possible necessity of reapportioning the elected board of education to meet the principle of one-man-one-vote as espoused by the United States Supreme Court. They held hearings on various plans to reapportion the board but ultimately decided "the idea of continuing our Board as an elective body is hereby rejected as a political concept, worthy though it may be but impractical and obsolete under the one-man-one-vote ruling of the courts." (From Conference Committee Report #6..SB 1689)

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 1689 putting before the voters a constitutional amendment to eliminate the provision that Board members be "elected by qualified voters". The proposed amendment also eliminates the constitutional powers of the board to appoint the superintendent of education, and removes all constitutional direction as to how the superintendent shall be selected and what his position shall be in relation to the board.

Set out below is the present constitutional wording and the proposed amended wording.

CONSTITUTION, STATE OF HAWAII, ARTICLE IX (Education)

PRESENT WORDING

"There shall be a board of education composed of members who shall be elected by qualified voters in accordance with law. At least part of the membership of the board shall represent geographic subdivisions of the State."

Sec. 2 "Board of Education" PROSPOSED AMENDMENT

"There shall be a board of education composed of members who shall be selected in accordance with law. At least part of the membership of the board shall represent geographic subdivisions of the State."

"The board of education3 shall have power, in accordance with law, to formulate policy, and to exercise control over the public school system through its executive officer, the superintendant of education, who shall be appointed by the board and shall serve as secretary to the board." Sec. 3 "Power of the Board of Education” "The board of education shall have power, in accordance with law, to formulate policy, and to exercise control over the public school system."

(Note: Underlined sections are substitutions and deletions.)

ANALYSIS

PRESENT WORDING:  PROPOSED AMENDMENT:
...provides for a board of education...provides for a board of education
...has specific provision for selection of board members..."is not specific about how. -board members will be selected
...empowers voters to elect board members"...leaves power to legislature to decide who will choose board members
...gives power to board to appoint superintendent of education...does not say who will have power to appoint the superintendent
...designates working relationship between board and the superintendent...does not designate relationship between board and superintendent
...provides representation on board from geographic subdivisions of State. ...provides representation on board from geographic subdivisions of State.

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