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Friday, January 12, 2001

Cayetano rejects
panel’s report on
public teacher
contract talks

Drastic changes needed to boost
sagging morale, LeMahieu says

By Crystal Kua

Gov. Ben Cayetano says he's rejecting the recommendation by a fact-finding panel on how to settle the stalled public school teacher contract talks because the panel's report is not useful.

The three-member panel recommended a package of across-the-board raises and step increases totaling a raise of 19 percent raise over four years.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association is seeking a 22 percent raise that includes across the board raises and incremental increases in a four-year contract.

The state is offering a $3,700 across the board or an average 9 percent raise for the final two years of a four-year contract.

The report is part of a process that kicked in after the Hawaii Labor Relations Board declared an impasse in the negotiations between the HSTA, which represents 12,000 public school teachers, and the state.

Cayetano said the report contained outdated information and the panel took the posture of a "super-Legislature."

The governor said it was obvious that the panel members didn't understand the "nuances" of the state budget.

Cayetano has said that the state can't afford a 22 percent salary hike but can give a raise closer to an 11 percent raise received by the United Public Workers to settle that contract.

A rejection of the fact-finding report means that the process will likely move on to a 60-day cooling off period during which the HSTA can call for a strike.

Union officials have said that they will not comment on the fact-finding report until it's made public. The report, which was released Monday, is confidential for five days to give both sides time to examine it and decide whether to accept or reject it.

Drastic changes needed
to boost sagging morale,
LeMahieu says

By Crystal Kua

Morale among teachers and principals is at such a "fragile" state that changes are needed soon to turn things around, the state schools superintendent told lawmakers yesterday.

"I honestly think that things have to improve dramatically," Superintendent Paul LeMahieu said yesterday in an briefing before the state Senate and House education committees on the Department of Education's legislative initiatives for the session, which begins Wednesday.

Sen. Cal Kawamoto told LeMahieu that he has heard the frustrations from overburdened teachers and principals in the trenches. "Morale is very low," Kawamoto said.

With efforts to deal with special-education issues and school reform, LeMahieu said he's heard those frustrations, too. Addressing them is a priority especially in improving compensation and working conditions through budgetary and statutory means.

"That's what our agenda is all about," he told lawmakers.

LeMahieu said the legislative priorities and budget are geared toward improvements in the fundamentals of education.

The department is seeking funds for positions such as business managers, safety managers, clerical staff and other individuals with specialized expertise.

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