Hawaii Department of Education Rolls Out SchoolCafé – Pay for School Meals Online Now

Hawaii Department of Education is rolling out a new program called SchoolCafé that will make it easier for parents to monitor and pay for their child’s school meals online and through a mobile application. The new system provides a number of features including online payments, creating auto-payments, checking account balances and setting up low balance alerts.

The new system provides a number of features for parents including online payments, creating auto-payments, checking account balances, setting up low balance alerts and is accessible online or through a mobile application. Photo Credit: Cybersoft PrimeroEdge

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is rolling out a new program called SchoolCafé that will make it easier for parents to monitor and pay for their child’s school meals online and through a mobile application. The program, which is run using PrimeroEdge school nutrition food service software, will also help cafeterias track their inventory, make purchases and reduce costs.

“The Department has spent the last two years working on bringing our food service management system into the 21st century,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This new software will allow us to streamline the experience and process for parents as well as our cafeteria staff who will be able to anticipate their inventory needs with more precision, which will help reduce costs in the long run.”

A pilot program for SchoolCafé started on Jan. 9, 2017 with schools in the Castle, Kahuku, Kailua, Kalaheo, Kaiser and Kalani complexes. The rest of the schools started transitioning in February, and all 256 campuses will be online and using the software by April 3.

The new system provides a number of features for parents including online payments, creating auto-payments, checking account balances, setting up low balance alerts and is accessible online or through a mobile application for iPhones, Android and Windows phones. A 5 percent convenience fee will be charged for payments made online and through the mobile application. Parents still have the option of paying with cash or check at their child’s school at no charge and can use SchoolCafé to check their balance.

Schools will be able to keep track of production records and can make purchases through a centralized ordering portal. Inventory will be tracked electronically, from previous purchases to pending orders. This is a change from the previous manual 5×7 index card system that schools were using for their food service programs.

“The cost savings from implementing the new program based on annual software expenses alone will be around $100,000,” shared Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson. “This is one less expense that schools will have to worry about since the Department will cover the cost of the software annually for all 256 public schools.”

The PrimeroEdge software cost HIDOE $870,000 and includes 18-months of service, installation and staff training. The annual cost after the 18-months will be $350,000, which will be paid for by the Department.

Photo Credit: Department of Education

A letter from HIDOE’s School Food Services Branch will be distributed next week notifying parents about this new system and where they can get more information.

Hawaii House Approves Bills on Master Plan to Build a New Stadium and Other Bills

With just about a month left in the 2017 legislative session, the House passed 35 Senate bills today.

The bills passed head back to the Senate for their consideration. If the Senate does not agree with the House amendments, the bills will be negotiated in conference committees.

Key measures passed by the House today include:

Public Education

SB 683 SD2 HD1 proposes amendments to Articles VII and X of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii to authorize the Legislature to establish a surcharge on residential investment property and visitor accommodations to increase funding for public education.

Aloha Stadium

SB 1200 SD2 HD1 appropriates funds to create a master plan and environmental impact statement for the construction of a new Aloha Stadium.

Red Light Photo Detector

SB 221 SD2 HD1 establishes a Photo Red Light Imaging Detector Systems Program to improve enforcement of traffic signal laws and requires the DOT to establish a Red Light Running Committee to review the program and make further recommendations.

Child Care Facilities

SB 511 SD2 HD1 requires the DHS to post reports of all child care facility inspections on its website, include all actions that involve complaints of suspected or actual violations, and appropriates funds to implement and comply with the reporting requirements for child care facilities.

Maui Hospitals

SB 944 SD1 HD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Budget and Finance for collective bargaining cost items to facilitate the transition of the affected Maui region hospital employees to employment with Maui Health System, a Kaiser Foundation Hospitals LLC.

Aquatic Life

SB 1240 SD2 HD1 requires the DLNR to submit their proposed legislation by 2019 including that a definition of “sustainable”, a policy for sustainable collection practices of near shore aquatic life, limits on collection, and any additional resources required by the apartment. It also prohibits issuance of new aquarium permits and transfer of existing aquarium permits.

A complete list of Senate bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&rpt_type=secondCross_ammend&measuretype=SB&title=Second Crossover.

Upcoming HI-PAL Boxing Event

The Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Community Policing Section – Hawaiʻi Isle Police Activities League (HI-PAL) announces it’s next boxing event will be held at the Thelma Parker Gymnasium in Kamuela on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Weigh-ins will be from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and the fights will start at 6:00 p.m. sharp. The event is free to the public and there will be a concession.

The HI-PAL Boxing Program targets youth ages 8-17, who are interested in an organized, full-contact sport.

“We were overwhelmed with the support of the community from the first event held in North Kohala. We want to continue to provide these events for our keiki and encourage more athletes, coaches and clubs to participate,” said HI-PAL Boxing organizer, Officer ‘KJ’ Kauahikaua. “It’s great for the kids, and even more so for the boxing spectators.”

Anyone who is interested in this program may contact Officer Kapelieli Kauahikaua Jr. at the North Kohala Police Station at 889-6540 or by email at kapelieli.kauahikaua@hawaiicounty.gov.

Commentary – Good Citizen or “Vexatious Requester”?

Dear Damon,

When it comes to transparency in government, both the requesters and requestees would do well to remember Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to (what we’ll diplomatically call) misunderstanding, negligence, or incompetence. To do otherwise risks the kind of policy that threatens the foundations of transparent government … as the debate over HB1518 demonstrates.

When first introduced, HB1518 put forth a very worrisome proposal: state agencies could petition the Office of Information Practices to declare someone a “vexatious requester” based on the subjective determination that the requester was a nuisance who made excessive, repetitive records requests. Having been deemed an official irritant by the state, the vexatious person would have their rights to make records requests severely limited.

The problem, of course, is that what a state employee finds annoying, an ordinary citizen can view as “just doing their job.”

And the testimony on the bill made it clear that this ambiguity about what it means to be vexing was at the heart of the controversy over the bill.

While various state agencies attested that they had been subject to serious annoyance by repetitive and “harassing” requesters, defenders of transparency attempted to put the complaints in perspective.

Brian Black of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest showed that despite claims by UH and the Department of Agriculture that they had been “inundated” with requests that made it impossible for them to keep up with their workload (prompting the need for this law), both agencies were anything but overwhelmed. Black pointed out that of the approximately 18,000 requests fielded by all state agencies over the last three fiscal years, UH only had to deal with 42 non-routine (i.e. other than a transcript) requests and the Department of Agriculture had only 220 non-routine requests.

In other words, certain agencies seem to be vexed by any request at all.

Both Civil Beat and the Grassroot Institute pointed out that the law could be used to target the most common requesters–reporters, think tanks, researchers, and others working in the public interest. Not coincidentally, these are the people most likely to be critical of government. They’re also the ones most familiar with the ways in which agencies–whether through bureaucracy or inefficiency–can stall or obstruct a response, leading to the need for multiple requests. What an agency might call “vexatious,” an experienced researcher could simply call “trying to get the government to release the right information.”

There is good news, however, and a victory to announce. Many watchdog organizations urged the legislature to amend the bill to include due process for anyone in danger of losing their rights under the “vexatious requester” label. The committee listened, and the most current version of the bill requires the agency to plead its case for vexation to a circuit court. The burden is then on the agency to establish that the requester has abused the process established by the Uniform Information Practices Act before the court can limit the requester’s rights.

All of which means that government watchdogs can safely conduct their research of waste and corruption without worrying about being labeled “vexatious.” Though it’s no guarantee that the agencies involved won’t have plenty of other names for us.

E hana kakou (Let’s work together!),

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.
President/CEO
Grassroot Institute

Chocolate Worth Gold at Big Island Chocolate Festival Gala

It’s a destination for delicious at the sixth annual Big Island Chocolate Festival gala 5-9 p.m. Sat., April 29 at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Indulge in both savory and sweet temptations prepared by top chefs and chocolatiers, plus unlimited wine and beer pours, in the spacious ballroom and twinkle-lit courtyard.

More chocolatey fun includes a tasty mole and salad bar, plus chocolate body painting and a chocolate sculpture display. Magic Strings, with versatile violinist Ursula Vietze, will serenade attendees and Kona Dance and Performing Arts stages classic tap dance, jazz and musical theatre during “Le Chocolat.” Dj EzE will spin tunes for your dancing pleasure while a silent auction will offer a variety of local activities and dining options.

This year’s event theme is “Worth Its Weight in Gold: The History of Chocolate” and culinary stations will be judged on their depiction of the theme, plus a host of “best” culinary categories: savory, plated dessert, bonbon, bean-to-bar, Hawaiian cacao and People’s Choice for Best Savory and Best Sweet.

In addition to the Hapuna Beach Hotel, culinary participants to date include Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Cafe Pesto, Fish Hopper, Madre Chocolate, The Fairmont Orchid, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Hilo Sharks Chocolate, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Sweet Eats, Guittard Chocolate Company, Prova, Valhrona USA, Huggo’s and Huggo’s on the Rocks, Padovani’s Chocolates, West Hawai’i Community College-Palamanui, Big Isle culinary high school students and the Cocoa Outlet with its signature, four-foot-tall chocolate fountain.

Numerous, off-island culinary professionals will judge the gala’s delicious offerings. Celebrity chefs coming from the Mainland are Alicia Boada of Cacao Barry, one of few individuals accredited as an executive pastry chef, culinary administrator and culinary educator by the American Culinary Federation; Stéphane Tréand, MOF of The Pastry School; author Paul Picton, owner of Maverick Chocolate; and Donald Wressell, executive pastry chef of Guittard Chocolate Company. Judges from Maui include chefs Elizabeth McDonald of B3 A Beach Bunny Bakery; Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont, Kea Lani; and Yoshikazu Kizu of Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, while Michael Moorhouse is coming from Waikiki’s Kahala Hotel & Resort. Prizes will be awarded at the gala, plus winners will be announced for the event’s Friday college culinary competition.

General admission tickets to the gala are $79 presale, $100 at the door. Also available is the Saturday I LOVE Chocolate! all-day pass for three daytime culinary demos and the evening gala priced at $135.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn., Kona Dance & Performing Arts, Kona Pacific Public Charter School and Waimea Country School’s Na Keiki Aloha ‘Aina.

Find ticket info, plus details on the event’s April 28-29 agricultural activities and culinary demonstrations, at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel offers festival room rates, phone 888-977-4623 and ask for BICF rate. Island Air offers festival attendees a 10 percent discount for travel April 24-May 3, 2017: Code BICF10 and travel must be booked by April 29. Terms and conditions may apply.

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. Mahalo to 2017 event sponsors Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Guittard Chocolate Company, Prova, Valrohna USA, Cacao Barry, Barry Callebaut, ChoiceMART, Kona Auto Center, Dolphin Journeys, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Amoretti, Cocoa Outlet, Kona Brewing Company, Young’s Market, Waialua Estate Coffee & Chocolate, XPress Reprographics, The Spoon Shop, Island Asphalt Maintenance, DHX, Island Air, Republica Del Cacao and The Wave@92FM.  www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. @BIChocoFest