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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Substitute-teacher pay raise signed

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Substitute teachers, who complain they have often been overlooked by the state Department of Education, will get pay raises in July under a bill signed into law yesterday by Gov. Linda Lingle.

The department also will have to develop a new pay scale for substitute teachers that may go beyond the raises approved yesterday. A report on the new scale must be given to the Legislature before the next session starts in January.

"It's a step in the right direction," said John Hoff, chairman of the Substitute Teachers Professional Alliance, who was given a copy of the law after Lingle signed it at an education ceremony at Washington Place.

Substitute teachers saw their pay cut in January to a daily rate of $112.53. The law will restore the daily rate to $119.80, where it was before the cut, and increase the rate for teachers with bachelor's degrees to $130 and teachers who are licensed or highly qualified to $140.

Substitute teachers have filed two class-action lawsuits against the state, one over the pay cut and another over $30 million in pay they allege has been improperly withheld since 1996.

"For a long time, we haven't been paid what we were supposed to," said Genny Chang, a veteran substitute teacher from Mo'ili'ili who often teaches at McKinley, Farrington and Roosevelt high schools.

Lingle said the law, along with the 9.56 percent average pay raises for regular teachers over the next two years, shows the state's support for education. The governor said there is "recognition that we need to devote resources if we expect good results. But, at the end of the day, regardless of how many resources you have, it does come down to people."

At the ceremony, held outdoors with punch and ice cream, Lingle also signed a proclamation declaring May Charter Schools Month. The governor and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona also honored several educators and students who won awards, including Winona Oato of Kailua High School, the state's teacher of the year, and presidential scholars Christian Ling of Maui High School and Julia Ogilvie of Punahou.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.