WAILUKU - Two Makawao mothers are organizing protests against a contract agreement to furlough public school teachers for 17 days this school year, and hoping to get the attention of legislators.
Although, as stay-at-home moms of school-aged children, Liza DeLaRosa-Walker and Kris Musto, don't have to worry about child care themselves, both are concerned about how other families will cope and how children will cope with the loss of classroom instruction, especially when schools are already struggling to meet benchmarks.
"It's an issue for many in the community," DeLaRosa-Walker said Wednesday afternoon after helping organize a second protest against the furlough plan.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Haiku Elementary School parent Ben Bland (second from right) holds a pair of signs while joining other opponents of teacher furloughs Wednesday morning in front of the state building in Wailuku. “I just don’t want to see my daughter miss any more school,” Bland said. “Education should be the last thing that you cut. That’s our future right there.”
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Chanting “save our schools,” young protesters (foreground, from left) Alyssa Robinson, 10; 12-year-olds Maile Sur and Nikki Musto, and Hoku Robinson, 8, march in front of the State Building on Wednesday morning.
Approximately 60 people were in Wailuku town Wednesday morning, holding signs in protest against the furlough days that teachers will take to help balance the state's budget. Earlier the same day, protesters rallied at the intersection of Haleakala and Hana highways.
DeLaRosa-Walker, with three children at Makawao Elementary School and two attending Kalama Intermediate School, said she and Musto also coordinated a protest last week in Makawao and plan to hold another sign-waving event next week.
She said they are urging state lawmakers to call a special session of the Legislature to respond to the issue, possibly by tapping the state's Hurricane Relief Fund to cover the 17 lost days of instruction.
FURLOUGH FRIDAY PROGRAMS
Call organizations directly for information on special rates and meal information. This is not a comprehensive list, but are listings provided to The Maui News by Wednesday morning. Another list containing Furlough Friday programs was published in The Maui News on Page A4 on Sept. 30.
Clearview Christian Girls' School
What: STAR-Girl Safari Furlough Program, emphasis on science, technology, art and reading
When: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. or 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; all Furlough Fridays
For: 4th- and 5th-grade girls
Location: At the school in Pukalani
Cost: (per session) 8 a.m.-3 p.m. is $40; 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. is $60
Information: Call 876-0123
Maui Humane Society
What: animal and environmental education; games and crafts
When: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; all Furlough Fridays
For: grades K-5
Location: At the shelter in Puunene
Cost: $40 per session
Information: Call Angela Wood at 877-3680 Ext. 20 or send e-mail to: email@example.com or see: www.mauihumane.org/youth
Moving Education Nearer to Shaping Children's Hearts (MENSCH Program)
What: Freaky Furlough Fridays - arts, crafts and performance basics in character building
When: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; all Furlough Fridays
For: ages 7-11
Cost: $42 per day
Information: Call Elena Lissone, 573-5313
The Reading Clinic
What: Reading-centered studies: literature circle with creative writing and art extensions; outdoor activities; homework time; enrichment cinema
When: morning session: 7:45-10:45 a.m.; afternoon session, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; all Furlough Fridays
For: 4th- to 8th-graders
Cost: $22 per session
Information: Call 573-0503 or send e-mail to TheReadingClinicHi@yahoo.com
What: Adventure Kid Tours, visiting Maui's historical, cultural and geological sights
When: 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; all Furlough Fridays
For: ages 8 to 14
Location: Pick-up and drop-off in Kahului
Cost: $50 per day
Information: Call 877-8888
University of Hawai'i Cooperative Extension Service
What: Fun Food Fridays, learn about math and science through hands-on learning experiences in food science, food safety and nutrition with intergenerational learning with kupuna (elders)
When: 8 a.m.-2:20 p.m., Oct. 23 and 30 and Nov. 6
For ages: 6th- to 9th-grade
Location: UH Cooperative Extension Service Community Service Building; Maui Community College campus, Kahului
Cost: $75 for all three sessions; no charge for kupuna who want to participate
Information: Call 244-3242 Ext. 226
Windows of Opportunity
What: tutoring service and academic enrichment program
When: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; all Furlough Fridays
For: Grades K-12
Cost: $67.50 per day
Information: Call 344-8468 or on the Web at woohawaii.com
She and others expect to meet soon with state Upcountry Rep. Kyle Yamashita to discuss the situation. But in the meantime she urged others to write to state legislators for help.
"We're not teachers. We are not equipped to help them," said Musto, a mother of a kindergartner and 3rd-grader at Makawao Elementary School, and mom to a 7th-grader at Kihei Charter School.
DeLaRosa-Walker said in addition to the loss of classroom instruction, the furloughs will impact families whose children get their only steady meal at school. She said she also wonders how the furloughs will impact lower-income families whose parents work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
"First and foremost, we want those furlough days gone, that's our immediate concern," DeLaRosa-Walker said.
Among the entities offering alternatives to parents, Doris Todd Memorial Christian School officials said they would accept applications for transfer students wishing to enroll in the private Paia school.
The school is accepting students grades K to 8.
The school day is from 7:50 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition to academics, the school also provides physical education, computers, art and music (for K-8). Band is available for middle school students. After school care is also available.
For students entering the 2nd grading quarter, tuition rates are: K-5, $3,605 ($515 per month) and 6th-8th grades, $3,815 ($545 a month).
Call the school office at 579-9237 for more information.
And to help parents with childcare options and transportation, the Business Networking International Lahaina and Wailuku chapters are asking for volunteers to help with mentoring and transportation and provide donations of art supplies and crafts. The groups can also be contacted if parents need help during Furlough Fridays.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.