HSTA tries to clear up contract confusion

Published: Jan. 18, 2012 at 3:45 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2012 at 3:47 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's public school teachers are doing some math to figure out if their six-year tentative agreement adds up to a better deal than the state's imposed contract. HSTA members arrived at the Hawaii Convention Center with lots of questions about the deal. The union also streamed the meeting live on the web for teachers who couldn't attend.

"At the moment, I'm not at all in favor of it. Most of the people I've talked to were all planning on saying 'no.' It's all really going to depend on what they can tell us," said M.J. Matsushita of Kaimuki High School's Performing Arts Center.

"I haven't decided yet, actually. We only have two days so I gotta figure it out soon," said Osa Tui, McKinley High School's registrar.

The deal includes an end to the state's 5% pay cut starting in July 2013. Members would then receive annual pay raises tied to performance and years of service.

"We really feel that teachers are accountable. Our teachers are professionals and they understand to tie in an evaluation piece with the salary increase in increments will be justified," said HSTA president Wil Okabe.

But there is apprehension about the new "pay for performance" system being developed. The process will be tested during a two-year pilot project. The evaluation will include measures designed to reflect teacher practices and their contribution to student learning and growth.

"I've been hearing a lot of trepidation because they don't see the finer details, but those things kind of have to be worked out, so we'll see. Hopefully, it comes to a good conclusion," said Tui.

Roughly 300 educators at the top of the pay scale won't receive the yearly raises.

Other key provisions include teacher furloughs ending after the first two years of the contract and a 50/50 split on health premiums.

"I vote with the board. I'll vote 'yes' if the HSTA board looked at it, and the board is made up of members, teachers who are also impacted by the salary," said Kalihi Uka Elementary School counselor Inga Park Okuna.

A ratification vote is set for Thursday. Results will be released that night.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.