Categorized | Education

Governor Lingle proposes new plan to return students to school

MEDIA RELEASE

Gov. Linda Lingle is proposing an updated plan to immediately end Furlough Fridays. Her plan would return public school students to class for the 21 remaining furlough days that would be lost between now and the end of the next school year.

The proposal would:

  • Eliminate 21 days of teacher furloughs – four this year scheduled in April and May and 17 in the next school year.
  • The State would increase teacher pay by a total of $62 million to pay for 12 furlough days. These funds would be made available through the Rainy Day fund or the Hurricane Relief fund.
  • Teachers would be asked to contribute one planning day this year and eight next year, allowing children to return to schools on these days when the schools are closed but teachers are paid. Teachers would still have two paid non-instructional days when children would not be on campus.
  • School-level personnel would return to open up the classrooms and provide instruction. Other non-essential Department of Education (DOE) employees would remain on furlough, similar to other State employees.
  • Funding would cover both the salaries and fringe benefits of teachers. Release of the funds would be contingent upon legislative passage of a constitutional amendment to allow voters to determine if the next governor should appoint the school superintendent.

“This plan recognizes it is important to restore both the quantity and quality of instructional time our children receive in public school,” Lingle said. “Making the superintendent of education directly accountable to the governor ensures there is one person ultimately in charge of improving our schools. We won’t see progress until this happens.”

Prompt adoption of this plan would give teachers an opportunity to vote on the proposal prior to the next scheduled furlough day April 23. Parents would have time to adjust back to the normal school calendar with the least amount of disruption to their family schedules.

This new plan builds upon previous proposals made in November 2009 and January 2010. It reflects a shift away from requiring teachers to give up all of their non-instructional time. Key members of the Legislature were briefed on the plan earlier this month.

The proposal will need to be offered to the Hawaii State Teachers Association by the employer group, consisting of the governor, Board of Education and Department of Education.

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In a memo to Hawaii State Teacher Association members, president Wil Okabe said the agreement is in the best interest of students, schools, teachers, and public education.
Okabe said he understands teachers are eager to get back into the classrooms and has scheduled a Wednesday, March 31 vote on the tentative agreement.
Although a vote is not required for supplemental agreements, HSTA leaders want to provide an opportunity for members to let their voices be heard.
Informational meetings have been scheduled for Monday, March 29, and Tuesday, March 30.

“We have worked hard to secure this agreement and get students and teachers back in the classroom every Friday,” Okabe said. “I appreciate the effort the representatives of the BOE put into our discussions and their commitment to do what’s best for Hawaii’s children.”

“This agreement gives back to students the school days they deserve in a fiscally responsible way. I want to thank HSTA, as well as parent groups, for working with the Board to do what is right for Hawaii’s children and the future of our state. I am hopeful that this plan will be well received by the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers,” Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi said.

The provisions of the tentative agreement are as follows:

Fully restore student days
This agreement restores all remaining student days in the current year and all student days in the 2010-11 school year. The result will be that students will have a full school year next year, like they did before the furloughs were implemented.

For the current (2009-10) school year
The agreement provides for the state to appropriate approximately $24.5 million to eliminate the four (4) remaining furlough days this school year. In return, students will be given an additional full day of instruction; and the last teacher work day of the year will be converted to a half day with students.

For the next (2010-11) school year
The agreement provides for the state to appropriate approximately $67.5 million to eliminate eleven (11) furlough days. The remaining six (6) furlough days will be scheduled on non-instructional days as follows: Two (2) days at the beginning of the school year (one administrator day and one teacher day); teacher institute day; three (3) planning collaboration/waiver days as scheduled by the Board of Education.

To offset the use (for furloughs) of some planning collaboration/waiver days, the contractual provision that permits administrators to use up to eight (8) preparation periods for their own purposes will be suspended for the school year. To allow for important member communication in place of institute day, HSTA may hold two (2) informational meetings (up to 95 minutes each).

All DOE employees are covered by this agreement
The cost estimates include all DOE employees. The Board of Education proposals to HGEA and UPW are currently under review. Under this agreement, the average pay cut for ten (10) month teachers due to furloughs over the two affected school years will be 4.44%.

Critical Timeline
On March 31, 2010, the HSTA will ask bargaining unit members to vote to approve the tentative agreement. The agreement is subject to the Board of Education submitting, the Legislature approving, and the Governor releasing the necessary funds by the following dates: April 21, 2010, for the current year (next scheduled furlough day is April 23, 2010); and July 8, 2010, for next school year. If funding is not achieved, the supplemental agreement will not be implemented and the school calendars for this and next year will continue as planned with “furlough Fridays.”

A positive solution for our students and our state
Students need to be in school for the duration of the traditional school year. Teachers want to be there teaching them. Through this agreement, the Board of Education and HSTA have taken the initiative to work toward a positive solution. We ask for the support of all concerned to implement this agreement.

Okabe concluded, “Students need to be in school for the duration of a traditional school year, and teachers want to be there teaching them. Through this agreement, the Board of Education and HSTA have taken the initiative to make this possible. We ask for the support of the legislature and the governor to bring this promising work to fruition.”

One Response to “Governor Lingle proposes new plan to return students to school”

  1. mysasato says:

    Linda Lingle is by far the worst and most corrupt govenor we have ever had. There is nothing, kama’aina in her character, and she is completely inhumane when in comes to health and education. She has no grasp for what Hawai’i needs and is all about the money. She needs to resign or somehow be “impeached” for all the damage she has inflicted on this state and to our population.

    I’m surprised she is still in office and has not been legally accountable for slanderiing many, including our president (including the birth certificate debacle – totally malicious). She is just another republican bully. Our state is democratic, and she obviously was elected by people who thought she represented something else (my relatives included, who will not vote for her ever again). I’m ashamed we have her in office.

    Thankfully we still have Inouye and Akaka – True in the most Hawaiian sense of the word. And grateful to have Obama as president.

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