Plan to end furloughs rejected


POSTED: Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gov. Linda Lingle rejected yesterday a plan by the teachers union and the state Board of Education that would have restored seven classroom days to the public schools calendar.

The governor called an agreement between the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the board “;not a viable solution,”; adding in a written statement, “;This arrangement is not a credible plan. It is not fiscally responsible and it is not sustainable. The proposal completely ignores the state's worsening economic outlook.”;

Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi said last night that the board is “;very aware of the unprecedented economic challenges facing our state.”; He said he hopes to meet with the governor this week to discuss the plan.

A parents organization urged that the parties continue to seek a solution that would end the system of Furlough Fridays that has generated local and national criticism of the state education system.

Seventeen class days were cut this year, and another 17 will be cut next year while teachers and other state employees are on unpaid leave under the state's budget-cutting strategy.

The union-board agreement would have tapped the state's rainy day fund for $35 million. It would restore teachers' pay for five days and provide that they give up two planning days for instruction. The three finals days will be scheduled at the end of the school year.

Lingle offered earlier to release $50 million from the rainy day fund. She said it would restore teachers' pay for 12 days in two academic years ending June 2010. The rest would be restored by converting paid teacher planning days to classroom days.

;[Preview]    Details about HSTA's latest furlough agreement

The HSTA's latest plan will put students back in the classroom on some Furlough Fridays for the rest of the school year.

Watch ]


“;Her original offer was a good one, but it was not as viable as it first appeared,”; said Robert Perkinson, of Save Our Schools. “;She wasn't putting enough money on the table to restore every furlough day.

“;The union and the board put the ball in her court. Rather than put it in her pocket and walk away, we want her to bat it back,”; said Perkinson. “;We think it's possible for the parties to come to a solution where everybody contributes. We want all the parties to come together and get this done.”;

HSTA President Will Okabe and Toguchi described their agreement to state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa yesterday.

“;I do believe they've made a great effort,”; Hanabusa said. “;Even if the Legislature appropriates funds, it needs the governor to release the funds. The Legislature had appropriated the money to the DOE, but because of the economic downturn, the governor did not release the money.

“;I can't impress enough upon people the role the governor plays,”; Hanabusa said.

The union and BOE agreement planned that the 17 furlough days scheduled for the next school year would not be taken on Fridays. They would be taken during intercession periods and at the end of the academic year.