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2 deputy superintendents added to Hawaii Department of Education amid concerns about bureaucracy | Honolulu Star-Advertiser


The state Board of Education has approved appointments for two new deputy superintendent positions, despite concerns raised
by Hawaii’s teachers union and others that the hirings didn’t follow traditional processes and could worsen bureaucracy at the top of the state’s public school system.

But state schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi said he is appointing Tammi Oyadomari-Chun as deputy superintendent of strategy and Curt T. Otaguro as deputy superintendent of operations, specifically to help with assessing the massive statewide department for potential restructuring and modernizing, and to aid its ongoing response to the pandemic’s ill effects on
students and schools.

The approval Thursday increases the number of deputy superintendents
directly under Hayashi to three, effective Monday.
The two new positions,
each paying $190,000, are temporary for now, pending permanent funding from the state Legislature.

Several board members commended Hayashi for drawing the trust of two experienced leaders who can help with areas that may be challenging and crucial right now for him and the mammoth department, such as pandemic learning loss, data analysis and creation of a new strategic plan. The DOE operates 258 regular public schools and 37 charter schools, with approximately 171,000 students and 44,600 full- and part-time employees, and has been without a strategic plan since the last one expired in June 2020.

But while several testifiers said Oyadomari-Chun and Otaguro come with impressive resumes, not all agreed that the addition of two administrative positions was the best investment for limited resources, in a department often criticized for red tape and top-heaviness. Some said that the hirings should have had more transparency and advance notice, and a wide call for applicants.

“It was quite the surprise to find out that hiring the new superintendent would come with an additional price tag of $380,000 (which is in excess of $579,000 once fringe benefits are factored in) to add two additional deputy superintendents to the bureaucracy,” Osa Tui Jr., president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said in written testimony. “That’s more than half a million dollars per year that will be funneled away from our classrooms and our keiki.”

Tui said that he feels the additions create “an even higher ivory tower” of bureaucracy and that the board should have held public deliberations first on whether the positions were needed.

The Hawaii DOE spends only 3.54% of its budget on state administrative operations, while the national average is 5%, Hayashi said.

Kris Coffield, chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii Educational Caucus, and chief of staff for House Education Vice-Chair Jeanne Kapela, called the hiring process unusual.

“Rather than ask the board to establish two new positions that would then be advertised with potential applicants, these positions are being created with specific individuals in mind, at a cost of roughly $400,000,” Coffield testified. He said it is a “clear deviation from the board’s long-standing preference for soliciting as many high-quality applicants as possible for important administrative positions.”

BOE members Makana McClellan and Lauren Moriarty said they recognize
Hayashi has authority to hire staff. McClellan said to Hayashi during the meeting that following his appointment as permanent state
superintendent effective July 1, the board wants to “trust and give you the space you need to build the team you feel you need to achieve our collective goals.”

But with the board approving the appointments amid some critics’ concerns, McClellan said, “it continues to feel like we’re not taking their opinions seriously.” She called on Hayashi to provide data in the future to confirm the worth of the new hires.

Board member Kili Na­mau‘u was the only one to vote against the appointments.

The two new deputy superintendents join existing interim Deputy Superintendent Heidi Armstrong, who oversees academics.

>> Oyadomari-Chun, as deputy superintendent of strategy, will be responsible for “leading, directing and supervising the strategic planning, transformation and modernization, and implementation of the strategic initiatives of the department,” a department news release said.

Hayashi added in a statement that Oyadomari-
Chun’s “extensive experience in education research, data, policy, program design and implementation, and strategic planning and
management will make her an invaluable member of our leadership team.”

Oyadomari-Chun most
recently was interim asso­ciate vice president for
academic affairs for the
University of Hawaii community college system. Previous roles include DOE assistant superintendent of the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance; vice president of Hawaii Community Foundation; policy analyst for Gov. Neil Abercrombie; and executive director of Hawaii P-20.

>> Otaguro, as deputy
superintendent of operations, will be responsible for “assessing and enhancing the operations and administrative functions of the department,” the department said.

Otaguro has served since 2019 as the state’s comptroller and director of the Department of Accounting and General Services. He also worked for three decades
at First Hawaiian Bank, including as executive vice president and senior vice president for digital banking and retail banking for Oahu.

His experiences in “managing a major department of the state’s executive branch, and leading the transformation and innovation work of a large institution will make him an invaluable member of our leadership team as we work toward modernizing our systems to be highly effective and efficient,” Hayashi said.

This content was originally published here.

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