Summer Fun offers new job incentives
The city raised hourly wages for Summer Fun student aides by 50 cents and created a new job classification to woo more young adult workers and avoid cutbacks.
About three weeks ago, only 100 of the 550 student aide positions had been filled. A shortage of aides could have cut the number of participating children.
So the city put out a call for more aides and received hundreds of applications, but still fell short by 48 of the target goal of 550 positions. Most of the unfilled positions are in Windward and West Oahu.
"We wanted to add just a little incentive to the pay, and that's why we increased it," said city Parks Director Lester Chang. "Hopefully, we will be able to maximize the number of senior leaders we hire, which in turn will be able to maximize the number of children we can have in the program."
The Summer Fun program could enroll 10,000 youngsters with sufficient staffing.
The city announced yesterday that a new job classification would allow high school graduates who are enrolled or planning to enroll in college in the following semester to work as student aides for $7.50 an hour. That would increase the number of eligible workers, as only students with a minimum of one year of college could apply in the past.
The other student aides will receive a 50-cent hourly increase. Student Aides II will receive $8 an hour. To qualify, applicants must have completed a year of college (24 credits). Student Aides III will be offered $9 an hour and must have completed at least a summer as a student aide in the city's Summer Fun program.
The pay had remained the same for years while the number of applicants had dwindled in recent years, city officials said in a news release yesterday.
Chang said filling positions for trained staff is but one of the challenges of keeping the program viable, along with having suitable facilities, programming and financing.
Transportation costs also have shot up, forcing the city to eliminate most field trips in the upcoming summer program.
The bus service for excursions used to cost $2 a person. But based on the bids received, the city would have to ask parents to pay $7.50 to cover transportation costs.
"We didn't think it was responsible to ask parents to cover transportation in addition to admission fees and food," Chang said. "It would have been pretty expensive."
Instead, the Summer Fun program will offer walking field trips, trips using the city bus and bringing elements of activities to the children, Chang said.
"I'm confident that we're going to offer a viable program which is fun, safe and healthy," Chang said.
Applications for the Student Aide II and III positions are available at www4.honolulu.gov/cityhallonline.
A hard-copy application for Student Aide I positions may be submitted to the Department of Human Resources at 650 S. King St., 10th Floor. Applications will be available at city parks or at the department beginning Friday.