HONOLULU—The State Senate approved Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s nominees for Hawaii’s Board of Education on Thursday, April 14.
The diverse group of nominees received encouragement from the Senate on their difficult journey of reshaping Hawaii’s public education system.
Sen. Jill Tokuda (D) called the new Board members “true game changers” and pointed to the intensive interview process over seven hours of hearings.
“We asked them a lot of questions, and we got a lot of answers,” Sen. Sam Slom (R) said approvingly. “We are all rooting for you.”
Sen. J. Kalani English (D) pointed to a time in Hawaii’s history as an independent country when it had a 98 percent literacy rate—how it was common for the people of Hawaii at that time to speak three languages.
“There’s no reason we can’t obtain high literacy rates again,” English said. The senator went on to challenge the new Board members to go to “remote areas, places the city tends to forget.” English said schools like Lanai and Molokai High Schools currently lack the most basic needs for educating its students.
The new Board members are First Hawaiian Bank CEO Don Horner, former Hawaii County Councilman Brian De Lima, Maui Memorial Medical Center CEO Wesley Lo, Kapiolani Health Foundation philanthropy director Kim Gennaula, retired Hawaii Employer-Union Benefits Trust Fund Administrator Jim Williams, attorney Nancy Budd, University of Hawaii at Manoa Graduate Professional Access Program Associate Director Charlene Cuaresma, former YWCA on Oahu CEO Cheryl Kauhane Lupenui and Board of Regents Executive Administrator Keith Amemiya.