Thursday, May 2, 2002

State of Hawaii

substitute teachers
getting wage cuts
in new scale

Some say the DOE's flat-rate
system is built on outdated figures

By Gary Kubota and Lisa Asato

The highest-paid substitute teachers in the state Department of Education will be getting pay cuts instead of pay raises, Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto said yesterday.

That's because starting July 1, all substitute teachers will be receiving the same daily rate of $110.71.

Although that is an increase for those earning $97.90 and $105.27 per day, it is a cut of $2.49 for top earners who make $113.20 a day.

Hamamoto said the three-tiered pay rate is not in line with state law, which pegs substitute teachers' pay to entry step salary rates for a Class II teacher of $28,457.

But substitute teacher David Garner and attorney Eric Ferrer, who represents substitute teachers, said that is an outdated figure, and the increases should be based on the $33,700 awarded under the new contract. They said even the DOE Web site confirms that figure for an entry-level Class II teacher. That new figure translates to $133.73 a day, they say.

"I don't know what kind of logic they're using, but it's not in compliance with what they publish, and it's not in compliance with the law," Ferrer said, calling the across-the-board rate "absurd."

"They didn't budget enough money," Ferrer said later. "This is just bureaucratic nonsense. It is wrong anytime you tell just a fair-minded person that you were making $113 ... and all regular teacher salaries have gone up but as a result of that, your salary is going to go down. That is wrong. That is wrong."

But Hamamoto said: "That's the law. I've got to follow the law. We've got to base it on $28,457. ... This is what it comes out to be. They all get one rate. The law clearly states it's one rate for all substitute teachers."

Hamamoto said she did not know how many of the state's pool of more than 5,280 substitute teachers would be affected by the cuts. Pay raises would be applied retroactively, but the reductions would begin July 1, she said.

On Tuesday, department spokesman Greg Knudsen said all substitutes would earn raises to $133.73, but Hamamoto said yesterday that figure was based on the wrong step level. The new figure, she said, does not change the department's estimates that the cost of the raises would range from $3 million to $5 million.

How the department will pay for the raises is yet to be determined.

State administration officials said some money has been appropriated for pay increases in a bill attached to the collective-bargaining measure passed last year. But Knudsen said the amount does not appear to be enough.

Knudsen said the department is committed to finding additional sources of money to pay for the increases.

"The department will have to review its budget and see where we are," Hamamoto said, adding that the department hopes to get the raises out before the school year ends.

Substitute teachers are not members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association and do not receive health and retirement benefits.

Ferrer said he cannot imagine why the state officials would ignore the law and allocate less than what is required as the correct pay.

"It's astounding," Ferrer said. "It was a statute on the books, and they had a legal responsibility to enforce it."

Hamamoto, who received a complaint letter from Ferrer last week, said Tuesday that substitute teachers are to receive at least a 17.6 percent increase in daily pay, retroactive to July 1 of last year.

State budget appropriations for pay increases for substitutes account for a 4 percent increase in fiscal 2001-2002 and a 6 percent increase in fiscal 2002-2003, state Budget Director Neal Miyahira said.

State Department of Education

E-mail to City Desk


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