Amid push to boost DOE executive salaries, some advocates say focus should instead be on schools

Some argue the focus should instead be on school-level spending.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 5:52 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Board of Education this week agreed to increase the six-figure salary ranges for 15 complex area superintendents by 10% to 12%.

Proposed pay hikes for other superintendents at the department-level were deferred.

But for the raises to take effect, the Department of Education will need to present a proposal to the board that includes the experience of complex area superintendents, their unique characteristics, as well as their qualifications.

While DOE’s superintendent said they value all their employees, advocates feel the state is prioritizing their leadership over those on the frontlines.

Cheri Nakamura, director of the education-focused He’e Coalition, said she understands the reasoning behind the proposed pay hikes but adds it’s not the right time to be considering executive raises.

“We know that the principals, teachers and the staff have done a heroic job after the pandemic,” said Nakamura. “I mean, really, but we don’t know to what extent leadership has contributed to that.”

She added: “While we understand that everybody would like a raise, we feel that resources should be directed at the schools. If we saw at the school level, if we heard from the school level, that things were getting easier, that they had an easier time with providing the services for our students than it would make difference.

“But yeah, we’re not hearing that.”

DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi pointed out raises for union members are out of his hands.

“I’m proud of our folks in the department, because they are fully committed to ensuring that our students are supported every day,” he said.

The superintendent said he’s pushing to raise pay for complex area superintendents because they play a pivotal role in leading the agency.

He was one for three years for the Pearl City, Waipahu and Nanakuli area and he credits his superintendents for helping campuses meet regionally-specific needs.

Hayashi said the executives serve as key liaisons between schools and the state office.

“One example of superintendents making things better in schools is that they are there on the field, in the in the field, visiting schools regularly,” said Hayashi. “They meet with their principals, they’re talking with students, talking with parents, they are actively engaged in school, school design, evaluations, recommendations.”

Hayashi also acknowledged that inflation is taking a toll on everyone’s budget.

The BOE said the next meeting to discuss salaries will be in either April or May.