Teachers vote on contract


POSTED: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hawaii's 31 charter schools will not automatically furlough teachers or shut down on days designated as furlough days for public schools.

Today the state's 13,000 public school teachers will vote on a new contract that calls for a nearly 8 percent pay cut and closing the schools 17 days a year for the next two years.

But Hawaii charter schools, which are state-funded but operate with separate individual school boards, will not be bound by the same agreement.

Vanelle Maunalei Love, executive director of the Hawaii Charter School Administrative Office, said each school will have to negotiate a separate contract with the Hawaii State Teachers Association and figure out its own response to the reduction in funds.

The charter schools budget is set by the Legislature and then either approved or restricted by the Lingle administration. Love said that in the past two years the per-pupil level of funding at charter schools has dropped to $5,500 from $8,149—a decrease of almost 33 percent.

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“;Now it is up to the school as to how it will play out. Each charter school will have to negotiate a supplemental memorandum of understanding,”; Love said.

John Williamson, a spokesman for the HSTA, confirmed that the charter schools' different budgeting process means furloughs are not assured.


“;Because they have their own budget, what happens to each one will be determined by each charter school board,”; Williamson said.

In fact a letter sent out to the teachers by Wil Okabe, HSTA president, says “;furloughs for DOE teachers do not apply for charter schools.”;

Meanwhile today, the state's 13,000 teachers will vote on the new contract.

Okabe said the early teacher reaction was one of concern both for their own financial situation and the education of their students.

“;This is the first time we are asking our members to ratify a contract that is in the negative,”; Okabe said. “;It is very difficult. Teachers are concerned about their well-being and their students.”;

HSTA officials say they expect to be able to announce the results of today's voting by about 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state's largest public worker union, reports that it has not yet reached an agreement with the state, but notes that an agreement by the HSTA could be influential.

“;The settlement could influence other pending contract negotiations, including those involving HGEA,”; the union said in an e-mail to members this weekend.

“;Discussion are continuing between HGEA and the state, in the hope that we will reach a voluntary settlement with the employers,”; the HGEA said.