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Plan would cut 17 school days


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POSTED: Saturday, September 19, 2009

The state would close public schools for 17 Fridays this year and the next to save money, under a teachers' contract agreement.

The closings would mean that teachers would not be working 17 days in this year and in 2010, which translates into a 7.9 percent pay cut.

State officials and the Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe announced the tentative, two-year public school contract yesterday at an afternoon news conference at the Department of Education's downtown headquarters.

Okabe and Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto and school board Chairman Garrett Toguchi said they wanted to put together a money-saving plan that would not result in teachers being laid off.

Gov. Linda Lingle welcomed the tentative contract, saying it helps to “;address a growing budget shortfall.”;

Lingle restricted the education budget by $127 million this year and $142 million next year. Department officials said they couldn't calculate the amount that would be saved by the teacher furloughs because of other budget savings to be worked out.

;[Preview]  New HSTA Contract Announced
 

The new deal for more than 13,000 public school teachers was announced this afternoon, KITV4's Catherine Cruz has details.

Watch ]

 

               

     

 

Public school teachers will vote Tuesday on a two-year contract. The pact would reduce school days and save the state millions.
        Impacts
        » Schools would close on 17 Fridays this school year and next
        » The furloughs would translate into a 7.9 percent pay cut for most teachers
        » Besides worrying about their children's education, parents are concerned about paying for and finding child care on furlough days
       

       

The new contract will protect all licensed and tenured teachers who will not be laid off, according to HSTA. The first furlough day will be Oct. 23. Teachers will vote Tuesday on the contract.

Hamamoto said the state's financial situation “;is a crisis”; and added that she knows the furlough days will hurt.

“;We realize it will impact student learning. There is no way to say it will not,”; Hamamoto said.

The issue of random drug testing for teachers, which was in the previous contract, would be changed to drug testing for teachers when there is “;reasonable suspicion of illegal drug use.”; The HSTA challenge to the previous contract requirement will continue in the courts.

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If the contract is ratified next week, Hamamoto said the Department of Education will have more information available on its Web site for parents and students. Until then, there are a lot of unanswered questions, such as what will happen with Friday night sports activities.

Also not known is how the HSTA contract will affect the negotiations going on with the three other public worker unions. Lingle is seeking concessions from the United Public Workers and the Hawaii Government Employees Association in the form of furloughs.

The HGEA represents school principals, support staff and clerical workers, plus coaches and athletic directors. The UPW members staff the school cafeterias and provide custodial work.

HSTA's Okabe said he didn't know how his union's contract will change talks with other unions. The HGEA and UPW declined to comment.