State & HSTA reach tentative settlement

Patricia Hamamoto
Patricia Hamamoto
Garrett Toguchi
Garrett Toguchi

By Sean Ibara

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Contract talks between the State and the teacher's union finally produce some much-needed results.

The breakthrough was announced late Friday afternoon, signaling the end of contract talks.

The two year contract includes furloughs that amount to a 7.9% annual pay cut.

Layoffs are not part of the plan for licensed and tenured teachers.

The proposal must still be ratified by its more than 13,000 members.

"We believe that the agreement we have reached is the one that has the least harmful impact given the circumstances we are facing due to the current budgetary situation," said Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto.

That two year agreement calls for members to take 17 furlough days for those on a 10 month schedule, and 21 furlough days for those on a 12 month schedule.

One of the stipulations in the proposal is that both parties agree to drug testing of teachers where there is reasonable suspicion of alcohol and drug use.

School officials say as much as they tried to minimize the impact the cuts would have on students, there was no other choice.

"We realize that the furloughs will have an impact on our schools, our children, and their families, but there are many parties involved in this decision," said Wil Okabe, Hawaii State Teachers Association President.

"In order to mitigate and see how we can support our students as well as our teachers and our communities through this period, we're asking our parents, especially the parents of our elementary school students to partner with us and help us," said Hamamoto.

School officials say parents can do that by reading to their children on furlough days in order to help continue the learning process.

The furloughs will result in a savings of about $4 million per day, which is already figured into the Department's budget. School Board Chairperson Garrett Toguchi says he's confident students and teachers will do the best they can under the circumstances.

"All I can tell you is that our faith is in our principals and our teachers to do what they've always done and make the best of what they have," said Toguchi

The first day the furloughs will be implemented is Friday, October 23rd, that's if members ratify the contract. The vote will take place Tuesday, September 22.

The rest of the furlough days, all slated for Fridays, will be announced at a later date.