State loses 1,100 substitute teachers
A Census report finds a drop in the number of Hawaii's state and county employees
Hawaii has fewer state and county workers, apparently because of an exodus of substitute teachers, an analysis of a Census Bureau report shows.
Teachers make up the largest number of government workers, and that is where the drop-off occurred.
According to the Census Bureau's annual public employment and payroll report, there were the equivalent of 19,152 elementary and secondary instructional workers in 2005. That number is lower than in 2004, when 20,795 people were involved in classroom education, and an 11.7 percent decline from the 21,683 workers in 2003.
During that same period, the monthly payroll for instructional workers rose to $72.5 million in 2005 from $67 million in 2003.
Department of Education and teachers union officials were at first puzzled by the decline because the number of full-time unionized teachers did not change during that period.
Joan Husted, executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the union represents about 13,200 teachers, and that number has been fairly consistent.
However, a closer look at the department's figures shows the number of substitute teachers has dropped from about 5,095 in 2003 to about 3,900 last year.
In 2003 the state adopted new guidelines for substitute teachers that required them to have a bachelor's degree.
Substitutes say they are also underpaid, and won a lawsuit last year that awarded them an estimated $22 million in back pay.
DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen said a smaller pool of substitutes does not necessarily mean there is a shortage.
"It's not really a problem, although on occasion some schools may come up short," he said.
But David Garner, a Maui substitute teacher who brought the class-action lawsuit against the state, said he has seen up to four classes given study hall in the cafeteria and watched by campus security guards because of a substitute-teacher shortage.
"And then they wonder why test scores are going down," Garner said.
Garner blamed low pay and a state requirement that substitute teachers take a $100 DOE training class as the reason for the decline in the number of substitute teachers.
On any given day about 1,000 to 1,200 substitute teachers are in public schools statewide, Garner estimated. Substitute teachers are paid $119.80 to $140 a day, depending on experience. Their attorney says they should have been paid $151 per day.
The Census report counts the number of "full-time equivalent" state and county workers and the March payroll for those workers.
It also shows that the equivalent of 70,482 people worked for the state or county governments with a monthly payroll of about $222.6 million in March 2003.
But by 2005 the number of workers declined to 68,630, and the monthly payroll rose to $253 million a month.