Categorized | Education

HSTA members favor agreement to end furloughs

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

Teachers are on board with a deal between their union – State Teachers Association – and the Board of Education to end furlough Fridays.

HSTA gave its members a chance to have their say on a proposal that would require approval from the Legislature and the governor to use $92 million in state funds to restore four furlough days this year and 17 next year.

Early reports indicate HSTA members voted 84.5 percent in favor of the deal, with some 60 percent of the 13,500 members voting.

However, Gov. Linda Lingle previously has said the plan is too expensive and she is not likely to release the money, regardless of support from HSTA, the BOE or the Legislature. She has proposed only essential teachers should return to work.

In a memo late Thursday from HSTA president Wil Okabe, teachers were praised for their “incredible resilience and professionalism since the contract was ratified in September, staying the course and doing what will ultimately be best for your profession, our schools, and the children we teach.”

Okabe also said “The margin in favor of restoring a full school year for students sends a strong message to the Legislature and the community that our members are eager to be back in school and return to the normal school year that our children need.

“We were able to balance some very hard choices and reach an agreement we believe is fair. In return for fewer furlough days and a corresponding restoration of pay, teachers will have fewer non-instructional days, which represents a sacrifice by teachers, who already work long hours,” Okabe said.

Also in the HSTA press release:

For the current school year, the agreement provides for the state to appropriate approximately $24.5 million to eliminate the four remaining furlough days. In return, students will be given an additional full day of instruction; and the last teacher work day of the year will be converted to a half day with students.

For the 2010-2011 school year, the agreement provides for the state to appropriate approximately $67.5 million to eliminate 11 furlough days.

The remaining six furlough days for teachers will be scheduled on non-instructional days as follows: Two days at the beginning of the school year (one administrator day and one teacher day); teacher institute day; three planning collaboration/waiver days as scheduled by the Board of Education.

The supplemental agreement is consistent with the HSTA positions that retention of some non-instructional days is necessary for teachers to maintain quality education.

To offset the loss of some planning collaboration/waiver days to furloughs, the contractual provision that permits administrators to use up to eight preparation periods for their own purposes will be suspended for the school year.

To allow for important member communication in place of institute day, HSTA may hold two (2) informational meetings (up to 95 minutes each) each semester.

The cost estimates in the agreement include all DOE employees. The Board of Education proposals to HGEA and UPW are currently under review.

The agreement’s reduction of furlough days will result in a corresponding increase in compensation for bargaining unit 05 members. The overall impact for the current school year and next school year combined will be to bring the pay cut down from 7.94 percent to 4.44 percent.

With the approval of the tentative agreement, the Board of Education can now submit it to the legislature for funding.

Furlough days will end if the legislature appropriates the necessary funds and the governor releases those funds by the following dates: April 21, 2010 for the current year (next scheduled furlough day is April 23, 2010) and July 8, 2010 for next school year.

If funding is not achieved, the supplemental agreement will not be implemented and the school calendars for this and next year will continue as planned with “furlough Fridays.”

Okabe said, “Students need to be in school for the duration of a traditional school year. Teachers want to be there teaching them. Through this agreement, the Board of Education and HSTA have taken the initiative to work toward a positive solution. We ask for the support of the legislature, the governor, the parents and the entire community, which will ultimately benefit from this agreement.”

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