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Parents and teachers unhappy with proposed furloughs


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POSTED: Saturday, September 19, 2009

Alice Yip started tightening her family's budget earlier this year because she expected pay cuts for her and her husband, who both work for the Department of Education.

“;It was inevitable,”; said Yip, a public school teacher for 14 years. “;It's going to be a total financial strain for our family.”;

Teachers and parents of students at Lincoln Elementary in Makiki had mixed feelings and questions yesterday about a tentative contract for public school teachers that will close public schools statewide 17 Fridays this school year and next year.

The furloughs amount to a 7.9 percent pay cut for teachers.

“;Our children's future depends on education,”; said Safi Farid, a taxicab driver picking up his son.

The closures would also cost him about $150 a day to stay home to watch his son on furlough days.

“;I lose money,”; he said.

Tina Rawlins estimates it will cost up to $120 a day to place her two elementary school children in the YMCA on furlough days.

“;I don't know what they're thinking. They keep cutting education,”; she said.

Queenie Ibara, 35, a hairdresser, foresees either taking her fifth-grade daughter to work, working less to watch her, or getting another job to afford day care.

She assumed the children would have more homework to make up for the lost class time, a burden for the parents, who may be working extra to pay for day care.

“;I see how busy I'm going to be,”; she said. “;I'm not happy about it.”;

Sandra Rayburn, a part-time employee at Sears, said that if she has to cut back at work to take care of her kids on furlough days, she will need more financial help from the government.

“;I'm going to end up missing more work,”; she said. “;My pay would drop and then I could be getting more state assistance.”;

She was picking up her two children at the school yesterday. Another child is a freshman in high school and another is in college.

“;It's kind of sad,”; she said. “;They need their education to get by in this world.”;

Fourth-grade teacher Kathy Terada said she needs more information before deciding how she will vote on the contract on Tuesday.

“;There's so much pressure on us already to get our kids to perform,”; she said. “;The kids are going to lose out.”;

She said the school year has already been shortened from June 6 to May 26 before the furloughs.

“;Three and a half weeks,”; she said. “;That's a lot. Our main concern is the kids and making them succeed.”;

A 7.9 percent pay reduction would also be an added burden to a $130 jump in monthly medical insurance payments.

But Terada said she expected to sacrifice to help make up for the budget deficit.

“;The teachers, we just want to help out where we can,”; she said.

Fifth-grade teacher Kalele Blaisdell said: “;At least we still have a job.”;