Honolulu County recently made national news in the New York Times as school districts across the state of Hawaii took drastic steps to balance their budgets.
Historically, when government revenues have declined the way they are in the current recession, county officials are usually very hesitant to cut school spending – usually choosing instead to ask all of the operating departments to slash their annual budgets.
Not this time in Hawaii.
Honolulu County school districts made the decision to close its public schools on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money.
That resulted in the shortest school year in the nation and forced working parents to find adequate care for their children during the scheduled Friday furloughs.
While the furloughs have been in effect, parents in Honolulu County have resorted to using vacation days and work from home arrangements on Fridays when the schools have been closed.
This program has been especially tough on urban sections of Honolulu where parents do not have as many recreational opportunities for their children. Even parents who have been able to work from home have struggled on work related phone calls that have featured the noise of screaming children in the background.
It remains to be seen whether these drastic actions across the state will help balance the budgets and whether they will need to be continued in the future.
There is also no guarantee that future Honolulu Property tax increases can be avoided.