Lingle announces new plan to cut 24 Hawaii teacher furlough days
Gov. Linda Lingle today proposed a revised plan to cut furlough Fridays. Lingle’s new plan proposes restoring 24 of the remaining 27 furlough days this school year and next.
In November, Lingle announced a plan to restore all 27 furlough days. The new plan is essentially the same as the November plan except for restoring three fewer days.
Lingle’s new plan calls for teachers to convert 12 days that were previously reserved for teacher training or planning into instructional days. The November plan was asking teachers to convert 15 planning days to instructional days.
The teachers’ union was not happy with Lingle’s November plan and together with the state Board of Education and Department of Education came up with an alternative. Their alternative plan would restore seven of the remaining 10 furlough days this school year, but did not address next school year’s 17 furlough days.
Lingle rejected that proposal in part because it did not deal with next school year’s furlough days.
Lingle's November plan envisioned using $50 million from the state’s rainy day fund to pay teachers for an additional 12 days of instruction. When combined with teacher’s giving back 15 planning days, the November plan added up to 27 days.
Under the Hawaii State Teacher Association, BOE, DOE alternative, $35 million from the state's rainy-day fund would be used to restore five furlough days. Teacher planning days on Jan. 4 and May 27 would be converted to teaching days, restoring two more classroom days for students. The school year for students would end three days early, on May 21, leaving the week beginning May 24 as a furlough week for teachers.
A major difference in the two plans is Lingle's assumes $50 million will cover the cost of running schools for 12 days, while the HSTA plan assumes $35 million is needed to pay for just five days of school.
In her news release today, Lingle noted: "State Budget and Finance Director Georgina Kawamura pointed out to the DOE that their estimates of $35 million to restore five days of furlough time were inaccurate, as they were inflated by approximately $3 million. The Administration has refined the estimate of how much it will cost to open schools in order to restore more furlough days classroom time for students."
HSTA President Will Okabe later released this statement to the media:
"Although we have learned through the news media that the governor has developed a new proposal, we have not received anything from the employer group, and thus, we cannot comment on the new proposal until we have a chance to review it and determine what it involves. Unlike the tentative agreement that we reached with the DOE and BOE, we were not invited to collaborate on the plan that we understand the governor has sent to the news media. As always, we remain open and available to discuss ways to end the furloughs. We plan to meet with the DOE and BOE next week to continue our efforts on that front."
Here is the full text of the news release Lingle issued today on the new plan:
HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle has proposed a new plan to immediately return Hawai‘i public school students to the classroom for 24 of the 27 days that will be lost between now and the end of the next school year if the current furlough schedule is allowed to continue.
Under the Governor’s latest plan, up to $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund would be used to restore 12 furlough Fridays – five this semester and seven in the 2010-2011 school year.
An additional 12 instructional days – two this semester and 10 in the next school year – would be gained by using days when teachers are paid to be in their classrooms but do not teach students.
“Our revised plan keeps the focus on putting students back in the classroom for as many days as possible, which remains my highest priority,” said Governor. “As I have continued to stress since proposing my original plan, if the overriding issue is educating our children, then we need to move forward on this revised plan immediately in order to ensure students return to the classroom with the least amount of disruption to their schooling.”
The Governor’s most recent solution to resolve the furlough Friday issue and return children to school builds on her original plan offered on November 15 to restore all 27 furlough days from January 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 by using $50 million in Rainy Day funds to restore 12 furlough days while also converting 15 non-instructional days into classroom teaching days.
Last week, the HSTA, DOE and BOE proposed using $35 million from the Rainy Day Fund to restore five furlough days, and convert two non-instructional days to instructional day. The HSTA/DOE/BOE proposal would use two-thirds of the $50 million offered by the Governor to restore only five days of instruction time for the students this semester only, without addressing any furlough days for the next school year.
After Lingle-Aiona Administration officials met with BOE Chair Garrett Toguchi and then-DOE Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto last Wednesday to hear details of the HSTA/DOE/BOE proposal, Governor Lingle and her team carefully reviewed the proposal, thoroughly examined the financial information the DOE and BOE provided and looked at other alternatives.
State Budget and Finance Director Georgina Kawamura pointed out to the DOE that their estimates of $35 million to restore five days of furlough time were inaccurate, as they were inflated by approximately $3 million. The Administration has refined the estimate of how much it will cost to open schools in order to restore more furlough days classroom time for students.
The Governor’s revised plan adds up to $15 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the HSTA/DOE/BOE’s proposed $35 million for a total of up to $50 million to restore 12 furlough Fridays – seven more classroom days for students compared to what HSTA, DOE and BOE offered. An additional 12 instructional days would be gained in the next school year by using days when teachers are on campus but do not teach students.
“This solution would resolve the furlough issue for this semester and the next school year immediately, and allow teachers and students to focus on the lessons in the classroom, rather than being distracted by drawn-out furlough negotiations,” said Governor Lingle.
This proposal is currently being considered by the employer group, comprised of members of the DOE staff, two BOE representatives, the Director of the Department of Human Resources Development and a representative from the Governor’s office.