Pay limits on DOE leaders retained


POSTED: Friday, January 09, 2009

The state Board of Education dumped a proposal last night to remove salary caps for Hawaii's school superintendent and other educational leaders - a measure it had endorsed just last month.

The unanimous vote to scrap the idea came weeks after Gov. Linda Lingle announced she would ask more than 200 state workers, including 90 judges and 42 administrators, to forgo $4.1 million in pay hikes because of a projected $1.1 billion budget shortfall.

“;I think we need to be in line with the governor's initiative to hold down the costs of salaries in the state,”; said school board member John Penebacker.

A draft of the measure argued that pay ceilings pose a “;challenge to recruit and fill”; leadership jobs in education. It would have asked lawmakers to eliminate a $150,000 cap set in 2000 for the state's schools chief, a job currently held by Pat Hamamoto, and a $120,000 limit established in 2001 for the state librarian.

It would have given the school board “;full authority and flexibility”; to set salaries for those top posts as well as for Hawaii's sole deputy schools superintendent, five assistant superintendents and 15 complex-area superintendents, each of whom earns more than $100,000.

Hawaii law restricts the salaries of deputy, assistant and complex-area superintendents to no more than 80 percent of Hamamoto's maximum pay, causing some principals to earn more than their supervisors, education officials say.

School board members Karen Knudsen and Herbert Watanabe noted the board might need to reconsider adjusting the pay caps once the economy improves to give financial incentive for principals and other educators to take promotions.

“;Someday we do need to come back,”; Knudsen said. “;But it is not the right time.”;