Kauaians can vote in Maui BOE election

Kaua’i voters will be able to help choose a representative to the Board of Education from District 2. District 2 encompasses the Neighbor Islands, and is made up of one representative each for Kaua’i, Maui and the Big Island.

The 13-member Board of Education is also made up of District 1, O’ahu, with six at-large members and four district representatives. One student (non-voting member) also sits on the board. Herbert Watanabe (Hawai’i) serves as chairman.

The District 2 winner will represent Maui, taking over the spot held by Meyer M. Ueoka. The term of Kaua’i’s representative Sherwood Hara expires in 2004. Representatives serve four-year terms, with no term limits.

Mary Cochran, of Pa’ia is a first-time candidate. She works as an attorney and owns a catering business, retail and plantation museum. Cochran is also a former field representative for the Hawai’i State Teachers Association.

Kelly King, of Kihei, served on the BOE from 1994-98 and is the project coordinator at Hui Malama Learning Center. Since 1996 King has done part-time public relations work for Pacific Biodiesel.

The board’s purpose is three-fold: create policies; appoint the superintendent; and monitor the department, Watanabe said.

The BOE will face matters already being debated by those involved with and concerned about education in Hawaii:

– Decentralizing the BOE by starting up local school boards;

– School vouchers and the potential impact on public education; and

– Using the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards to measure adequate school progress under the federal “No Child Left Behind” Act.

Cochran said she does not favor a school voucher system, which would transfer money from the public school system into private schools.

On the state’s voter education Web site, Cochran says “the perception of a less-than-effective Board of Education will persist” unless Board members are willing to manage and demand the best from the Department of Education.

King said she is in favor of decentralizing the statewide district and that local school boards would allow community participation and create accountability for education officials. School vouchers would take money from public education and do not favor the separation of church and state, she said.

“Governance keeps changing, but until we address systemic change, we will not have the authority, and more importantly, community involvement, that is imperative for success,” King said on the Hawaii elections Web site.

Board representatives do not get paid, but receive a stipend for attending BOE meetings and required functions, and travel and administrative costs are paid by the state.

Absentee/walk-in voting is available until Nov. 2 at the Historic County Building in Lihu’e. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Call the County elections office at 241-6350 for more information.

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