Ending education furloughs prioritized


POSTED: Friday, March 05, 2010

Members of Gov. Linda Lingle's staff and the Board of Education said yesterday they still have hopes to return public school students to classrooms for some of the five furlough days remaining this school year.

The comments came after an hourlong meeting among board Chairman Garrett Toguchi; Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser; Marie Laderta, head of the state Office of Collective Bargaining; and other members of the board and Department of Education.

Toguchi said it was “;a working session”; for the employers of the 13,000 state teachers, librarians and other education employees who are off on their 12th furlough day today.

“;We still want to retrieve as many days as possible,”; he said.

Smith said, “;We wanted to discuss what would be the best approach to go back to them (the teachers union), to make sure we realistically address the number of furlough days that we can try and recoup.”;

Hawaii State Teachers Association information officer John Williamson said later yesterday that an informational meeting is set for today between union representatives and the Board of Education.

Negotiations stalled after the governor rejected a tentative agreement reached Dec. 28 between the Department of Education, Board of Education and HSTA. The deal called for use of rainy day funds, as did a November proposal by the governor.

But the employer and union disagree on how much money would be needed and how many days would be restored. Last month the HSTA filed a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, claiming the administration has failed to bargain in good faith on the issue.