Wednesday, May 1, 2002

State of Hawaii

Substitute teachers
will get their raises

Education officials do not yet
know how to fund the increases

By Gary T. Kubota

State education officials say they will make good on several million dollars in retroactive pay increases owed to thousands of substitute teachers -- they're just not sure where the money is going to come from.

Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto has authorized the state Department of Education to increase the pay for substitute teachers to $133.73 a day, department spokesman Greg Knudsen said yesterday. The former daily pay level ranged from $97.90 to $113.20.

The statewide pool of substitute teachers has grown in the last five years to 5,286 from 3,781 in 1997.

Knudsen said the pay increase would be retroactive to July 1. He said a previous estimate of the cost of retroactive pay increases ranged from $3 million to $5 million but the amount could go higher.

Officials have not determined yet where the money is going to come from out of the department's budget, he said.

"We will have to find the additional funding," he said. "Everyone will be given their due."

Knudsen also said he is not sure when the pay will be adjusted, but it will most likely take more than a month. Education officials are still working on completing the salary schedule for teachers, based on a new contract.

Knudsen said the next step is to contact substitute teachers and make payment adjustments based on verified work hours.

The decision yesterday followed complaints by a group of substitute teachers on Maui who said they had not received their increase and threatened to file a civil lawsuit.

David Garner, a substitute teacher on Maui, said he was happy about the decision.

"It's about time that they followed the law," he said.

Garner said he began complaining about not getting his pay increase after the teachers received their raises in October.

Garner said while he enjoys teaching, he feels substitute teachers were not being treated fairly and he had not been receiving satisfactory answers from state education officials about why he never received a pay increase.

He said besides receiving relatively low pay, substitute teachers do not get health and retirement benefits.

Garner said a number of retired teachers have been working as substitutes and he felt that the state was disrespectful when it failed to comply with the law.

"Those are the people who deserve it more than anybody," he said.

Garner, who led the protest, said the group incurred about $2,000 in legal bills.

Substitute teachers are not represented by the Hawaii State Teachers Association nor any other bargaining unit, but their raises are tied by law to negotiated increases for teachers, said union executive director Joan Husted.

Star-Bulletin reporter Lisa Asato contributed to this report.

State Department of Education

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