State & HSTA meet tentative agreement on Teachers' contract through 2017

Published: Jan. 7, 2012 at 4:20 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2012 at 4:24 AM HST
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Will Okabe
Will Okabe
Don Horner, Governor Neil Abercrombie & Kathryn Matayoshi
Don Horner, Governor Neil Abercrombie & Kathryn Matayoshi
At right, a teacher at work in her classroom
At right, a teacher at work in her classroom

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

There's developing news affecting Hawaii's 13-thousand public school teachers.  It's a breakthrough in the contract dispute that could save Hawaii millions in federal funding.

After an emergency negotiation today, the State and the Teachers Union have reached a tentative agreement on a teachers contract going all the way through 2017.  There would still be furlough days but teachers would eventually get incremental pay raises.  Under the new agreement there would be no random drug testing.

The timing on all this is critical.

Just last month federal officials warned they might strip Hawaii of 75 million dollars in "Race to the Top" funding if the contract dispute wasn't resolved.

HSTA president, Will Okabe, says that motivated them to reach a long-term deal.

Okabe said, "For the first time in the history of HSTA we have a 6 year contract.  So it will start from this year, of course, and go all the way to 2017.  So, therefore, for us it recognizes professional development and gives respect back to the teachers for what they do in the classroom."

The governor, schools superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and Board of Education chairman Don Horner put out a joint statement tonight, saying:

"We are pleased with the agreement... our focus remains on working together to ensure Hawaii will secure its Race to the Top grant, which lays the foundation for transforming student learning."

Many of the contract details are still not being released tonight.  The HSTA plans to post the full contract proposal on its website over the weekend and a ratification vote will be scheduled in about two weeks.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now.  All rights reserved.