Teachers overwhelmingly approve new contract

Dwight Takeno
Dwight Takeno
Elia Leiu
Elia Leiu
Wil Okabe
Wil Okabe
Joe Glenn
Joe Glenn

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - After months of drawn-out debate, decision day is here and more than 13,000 teachers have spoken.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association votes overwhelmingly, to ratify a tentative contract agreement with the state.

Here's the preliminary results from HSTA:

A whopping 81% voted "yes."

While 17% voted "no."

That now means starting October 23rd, those on a 10 month schedule will take 17 furlough days.

And 120 month employees will have 21 unpaid days off.

HSTA chief negotiator Dwight Takeno spoke with KHNL and K5 News right after the teachers' decision was declared.

"I knew it was a very difficult contract for our teachers to consider negotiating a less than zero contract is very, very tough, but I think the teachers really understood the economic times we were faced with and basically wanted to focus their attention back on the classroom," Takeno said.

The decision means the average teacher will take about a $5000 pay cut.

They say this cost-saving contract means not only sacrifice for them, but also parents and students.

From a crowded state capitol rally to intense negotiations.

It's all come down to this.

Farrington High School history teacher Joe Glenn favored the furloughs.

"Either way it doesn't seem like a win-win but it's what we have to do right now," said Glenn.

Seventeen selected Fridays through May, are when teachers will be asked to stay home.

Elia Leiu's son Kody is a sixth grader. He loves math.

His dad says furloughs equal a financial hardship for families that now have to find a babysitter or day care on the days teachers have off. He believes his son's education will also suffer.

"We're trying to teach our kids to better their education but how can we do that if teachers aren't in school?" asked Leiu.

HSTA says teachers will make up for the missed learning with alternative assignments, homework and other creative, strategic ways.

"It's not a happy day, either way it's a negative package," said HSTA President Wil Okabe.

For Glenn, that now earns up to five thousand less...it's one that will have to do for now.

"Maybe there are better choices, but I hope it doesn't have to go any further. It seems like the best option at this point," he said.

Once again, with more than 80% saying "yes", teachers approved furloughs.

From here, HSTA will finalize language on the contract and print it for state review.

Proposed Furlough days:

October 23 , 2009

October 30, 2009

November 6, 2009

November 20, 2009

December 4, 2009

December 11, 2009

December 18, 2009

January 15, 2010

January 29, 2010

February 5, 2010

February 12, 2010

March 5, 2010

March 12, 2010

April 23, 2010

April 30, 2010

May 7, 2010

May 14, 2010