Friday, January 12, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 12, 2001

Administrator salaries lure principals away, auditor says

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

Previous story:
Legislators focus on teachers
As the public school system braces for a massive shortage of principals, the state auditor yesterday told lawmakers that the principals’ salary structure does not encourage them to stay on the job.

At the same time, Marion Higa told lawmakers that school educational officers earn more — by as much as 32 percent in the highest-paying jobs — than state employees in other agencies.

Higa yesterday briefed the House and Senate education committees on her report, which raises questions about the fairness of the Department of Education’s classification and compensation of educational officers, which includes principals and other officers who work in areas such as personnel or budget.

Despite the responsibility of their jobs, principals earn the same as other educational officers. Higa said many principals have left the school for those other positions, which may be less stressful.

"It becomes a disincentive for a principal to remain a principal because they could make as much money or more in what’s perceived to be a much easier job," Higa said.

With as many as 64 percent of Hawaii’s principals eligible to retire in the next five years, lawmakers yesterday said they will look at the issue this session.

"One option is there should be a career ladder in the school system so the principals and vice principals don’t feel they have to advance by going to a desk job instead of staying with the students," said Senate Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto, D-16th (Moanalua, Salt Lake).

House Education Chairman Ken Ito, D-48th (Kaneohe), said he also wants to look at why the department pays more than other state agencies for comparable jobs.

For example, department educational officers earn $4,785 to $9,456 a month. State civil service employees earn between $2,350 to $6,446. And UH employees earn $2,292 to $6,687.

"We’re going to look into it and see if it’s justified," Ito said. "That’s our tax dollars, and we want to get our highest and best use of it."

Higa recommended the Board of Education develop a more accurate classification and compensation structure for educational officers. She also suggested that DOE officials work with the Department of Human Services to resolve the pay inequities between agencies.

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