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Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Laughing at Your Sacrifice: HSTA Pressures BoE for $33M Pay Hike
By News Release @ 4:38 AM :: 851 Views :: Education K-12, Labor

Laughing at Your Sacrifice: BoE Approves $33M Pay Hike for Teachers

HNN Feb 18, 2021: … Waianae Intermediate Art teacher Kileigh Sanchez’ said that her salary was raised by $8,000 for working on the Leeward Coast, but she is worried that this money will be taken away (wants to make this one-time deal permanent)….

Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said, “As superintendent I cannot in good faith expend funds that I do not have. In fact, I legally cannot to this.”

(Translation: I am going to give them the money as soon as I can.)

Currently, about 4,000 teachers are receiving higher pay, which costs the state about $33 million.

(The extra pay makes it easier to afford private school tuition for their own kids.)

The board voted to make the program a priority as Hawaii is expected to receive new federal relief funds….

(This means it will be legal as soon as they have to money in their hands.)

SA: Up to $10,000 in extra pay annually despite the fiscal crisis.

KHON: The BOE voted to rescind the memo and keep the incentive program in place. The DOE has been debating on how to use its $184 million in federal funds.  

read … Contrary to board vote, superintendent says department can’t afford extra pay for hard-to-recruit teachers

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Superintendent plans to discontinue shortage differentials that decreased vacancies

Send testimony to the BOE about how differentials made a difference for educators and the students they teach

(Editor’s Note: 'Shortage differentials' were paid beginning January 7, 2020, for one year only.  Of course, HSTA doesn't mention this inconvenient fact.  Extending them into 2021 is tantamount to a Pay Hike.  Details from Dec, 2019: Yet Another Campaign for HSTA Pay Hikes.)

News Release from HSTA, February 12, 2021

On Tuesday evening, the Hawaii State Teachers Association learned of a memo sent by Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto regarding her plan to discontinue shortage differentials, implemented in January 2020, for classroom educators in special education, hard-to-staff geographical locations, and Hawaiian language immersion programs. However, Board of Education members plan a special meeting Thursday during which they will discuss and vote on a proposal directing Kishimoto to keep the differentials in place and rescind her memo that tries to end them.

The superintendent’s memo is misleading. While she indicates that the shortage differential program was a pilot, this is not the case. These differentials were enacted and approved by the Board of Education based on Kishimoto’s request on Dec. 5, 2019.

While it is true that the superintendent announced a plan for a pilot program related to teacher compensation, that plan was related to the superintendent’s intention to address equity and compression in teacher salaries via a pilot project she proposed in January of 2020.

The superintendent seems to target teachers for discontinuing the shortage differentials, but has mentioned nothing about the other 11 HIDOE employee types who receive shortage differentials.

The other public school job classifications that receive a shortage differential due to a recognized labor shortage in their areas of expertise are Clinical Psychologist, Educational Interpreter, Engineer, Engineering Program Manager, Engineering Program Administrator, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Public Works Manager, Public Works Administrator, School Psychologist, and Speech-Language Pathologist. This is not to say that HSTA advocates for those in other shortage areas to lose their shortage differentials. We want to point out that the superintendent is not explaining how she is or is not prioritizing qualified classroom teachers for our children.

Discontinuing shortage differentials for our teachers would mean that nearly 4,000 educators will see a drop in pay.

Kishimoto’s memo also references what she claimed is a 10-percent cut to the HIDOE’s budget. This too is false, since on Jan. 21, Gov. David Ige restored a great majority of the HIDOE’s cuts, reducing the original 10-percent reduction to a 2.5 percent cut. But if you factor in the $100 million in cuts to the HIDOE budget this school year, the cuts next year rise to about 8.6 percent, still not the 10 percent that the superintendent referred to in her memo.

Last summer, Kishimoto attempted a similar move, asking the BOE to suspend the shortage differentials for this school year. HSTA fought that effort and the Board of Education rejected her proposal and supported continuing the shortage differentials.

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said, “The shortage differentials have made a huge difference and have decreased vacancies in shortage areas by 66 percent in just the last year. HSTA does not believe the superintendent can unilaterally discontinue the shortage differentials without the BOE approval.”

Email public testimony to the Board of Education

Late Friday, the agenda(s) for the Feb. 18 Board of Education meetings were published, including a special meeting at 11 a.m. regarding the superintendent’s plan to discontinue the differentials. BOE Chair Catherine Payne has placed an action item on the agenda calling for the Board of Education to direct Superintendent Kishimoto to “rescind her February 9, 2021 memorandum and to refrain from taking action on any teacher pay differentials without prior Board approval.”

The HSTA calls on its members and supporters to email the BOE by 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, to urge board members to stop the superintendent’s plan to discontinue shortage differentials.

If you are currently receiving a differential, please explain how it has helped you remain in your position and how its retraction will negatively impact you and your students. If you are a colleague or parent, please explain how a lack of qualified teachers has hurt your school and your keiki.

Email your testimony to testimony.BOE@boe.hawaii.gov, with the word “Testimony” in the subject line. At the top of the email, explain that you are testifying in support of Action Item A. for the Special Meeting, regarding Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s discontinuance of extra compensation for classroom teachers in special education, hard-to-staff geographical locations, and Hawaiian language programs.

Please include your name, and your school or workplace if you’re an educator, or school that your children attend.

The BOE summary calling on Kishimoto to rescind her memo stopping shortage differentials states:

The Board of Education (“Board”) approved differentials for licensed teachers to fill vacancies in the areas of special education (“SPED”), hard-to-staff geographical locations, and Hawaiian language immersion, effective January 7, 2020.

These differentials were the first phase of the department’s multi-phased plan to address teacher shortages. The second phase was the Addressing Equity and Compression in Teacher Salaries Pilot Project, which was separate from the differentials and was never implemented. This was the pilot, not the differentials.

The Board did not expect or intend for the differentials for SPED, hard-to-staff, or Hawaiian language immersion teachers to end in 2021 and it did not instruct Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to unilaterally discontinue the differentials.

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House, Senate Bills Ensure Funding for Teachers, School Staff

Proposals direct Department of Education to use federal funding to avoid layoffs

News Release from House Democratic Caucus, Feb 16, 2021

Honolulu, Hawai'i – In response to Governor David Ige’s dangerous budget cuts to the Department of Education, Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees have proposed two identical bills to provide essential funding for teachers and educational staff. House Bill 613 and Senate Bill 270 appropriate $104 million in federally allocated funds to offset draconian budget reductions that would result in layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts to an estimated 1,700 state school employees due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers are unified in their effort to ensure students have adequate educational support when they return to school. “These bills are about focusing on our students’ achievements and success to help get them back on track,” said Senator Michelle Kidani, Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “We have seen from schools’ financial plans that personnel cuts include critical staff throughout the school system, from teachers to educational assistants, counselors, cafeteria workers, and janitorial staff.”

“Legislators want to prioritize the use of federal funds to protect our keiki's future and ensure they can return to schools that are sufficiently staffed,” explained Representative Justin Woodson, Chair of the House Education Committee. “By moving these proposals and directing the Department of Education to use federal funds for staffing, we provide more certainty for the funding of our critical educational staff.”

Both the House and Senate Committees on Education are scheduled to hear these bills on Tuesday, February 16 and Wednesday February 17, respectively.

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