Parents, educators 'worried' about proposed teachers' contract

Jody Segundo
Jody Segundo
Nancy Boyer
Nancy Boyer
Arnie Kikkawa
Arnie Kikkawa

By Leland Kim - bio | email

KALIHI (KHNL) - Hawaii's public school teachers could start furlough days as soon as next month.

That's if Gov. Linda Lingle, R-Hawaii, approves the new contract proposal between the state and labor unions.

The governor was quiet Wednesday evening, but a decision could come as early as Thursday. The new contract has as many as 21 furlough days a year for Hawaii's public school teachers.

These students at Dole Middle School are marching towards their future. They and other Hawaii's public school students - about 175,000 in total - could have less time in the classroom if a new teacher contract goes into effect.

"I'm worried about the students missing days," said Jody Segundo, a concerned mom.

"Where would the children go? What will happen during school time?" asked Nancy Boyer, a Dole Middle School counselor.

The new proposed contract calls for 17 furlough days for teachers on a 10-month schedule, and 21 furlough days for those on a year-round schedule.

Educators at Dole Middle School are concerned.

"For us it's going to be how to we get, especially with our scores and making every effort to get those scores up, and then telling us that now we have less days to get the work done," said Arnie Kikkawa, Dole Middle School's principal.

And furlough days mean parents have to find care for their kids.

"I have grandchildren so I don't know what's going to go on with babysitting," said Segundo. "I might have to babysit them because I'll be off, but still, it's not a good thing. I don't like it at all."

Still, they realize it could be worse.

"I sure don't want to get laid off so I guess the furlough is better than that although I don't agree about it," said Segundo.

As the new school year inches forward, many hope the state's financial troubles don't adversely impact Hawaii's children.

"For the kids, the students, they need to be in school getting their education, not at home because the economy is so bad," said Segundo.

The teachers union and the Department of Education have reached a tentative agreement on the contract. The governor is looking it over Wednesday, and, again, could approve it as early as Thursday.