Governor Lingle calls for end to furlough days - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Governor Lingle calls for end to furlough days

Governor Linda Lingle Governor Linda Lingle

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. Linda Lingle on Sunday announced a plan to restore 27 school furlough days over the next year and a half.

During her recent trip to China, where she promoted Hawaii tourism and international trade, the governor says she kept a close eye on the furlough situation here.  She says her plan would restore stability to families who've been disrupted, but does require a sacrifice on everyone's part.

Many parents and students have been rallying for furlough Fridays to go away.  Under the governor's new proposal, they would get their wish.

"It allows us to get our focus back on improving education, on the quality of education, rather than on simply the quantity of education," Lingle said.

Lingle's plan would eliminate the 27 furlough days that are scheduled between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011.  That would be accomplished by first converting 15 non-instructional days, which teachers currently use for class preparation and professional development, into teaching days.

"It'll depend on a school by school basis but, as a whole, I think any teacher would look forward to this as an opportunity to bring some instructional days back, even if it's a give and take thing," Garrett Toguchi, state Board of Education chair, said.

The state would restore the remaining 12 days by taking $50 million out of the Emergency Budget Reserve Fund, commonly known as the rainy day fund.

"I think we'll look at it seriously," Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House finance chair, said.  "It's good to know the governor is willing to go into a special session, even use the rainy day fund to make the school kids whole."

"We are pleased that the governor has decided to use the rainy day fund to reduce the number of furlough days," Wil Okabe, Hawaii State Teachers Association president, said.  "If there ever was a rainy day for Hawaii's public education system, this is it."

"We believe the governor's proposal represents the kind of viable option we said would be necessary for us to return to the negotiating table," Okabe added.

"While it is important to have classroom time, it's also important to have successful classroom time so that if we're in a classroom more, we should be doing better as a state," Lingle said.  "We should start to move up in the rankings nationally."

Under the plan, this year's furlough days would go on as scheduled.


Press Release from the Governor's Office

PLAN TO GET CHILDREN BACK TO CLASS

Plan would ensure there is no classroom time lost for the period of January 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

(current furlough schedule continues through Dec. 31, 2009)

27 Fridays of class time will be restored over 1 ½ years beginning Jan. 1, 2010.

How this would be accomplished:

  1. Use 15 non-classroom days (between Jan. 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011) when teachers are paid but do not teach classes to restore all teaching days lost on Furlough Fridays beginning Jan. 1, 2010.
    (For those teachers who work on a 12-month schedule, a comparable adjustment would be made.)
  2. The cost of restoring the remaining 12 days would be achieved by using money out of the Emergency Budget Reserve Fund (Rainy Day Fund).

    Estimated cost to Rainy Day Fund would be $50 million.

    7 furlough days+15 Fridays replace non-instructional days+12 days paid by Rainy Day Fund=34 days (original # of furlough days)

Advantages of this plan:

  1. It allows us to refocus on improving the quality of instruction in our public school system, including putting together a competitive plan to position Hawai'i to compete for additional federal education funding, such as Race to the Top.
  2. It restores stability to the school year and eliminates the disruption that has occurred to family schedules.
  3. It reflects a shared approach to addressing this matter-some furlough days, teachers contribute their non-instructional time, and the State provides some additional compensation to cover the remaining days.
  4. It enables the state's political leaders and businesses to focus on growing our economy and our quest to achieve energy independence and security.
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