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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lingle rejects, again, deal that would have cut Hawaii teacher furloughs

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration this afternoon rejected a tentative agreement between the state Department of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers Association to end furloughs for the current school year.

Linda Smith, the governor’s senior policy adviser, said the state administration will continue to work with education officials this week to craft a “revamped” proposal to present to the teachers union. She was not specific what might be different in the new proposal, but she did say the governor hoped to address not only the remaining 10 furlough days in the current school year, but the 17 furlough Fridays in next year’s school calendar, as well.
Smith said they hoped to have an agreement with the HSTA prior to the next furlough Friday scheduled for Jan. 15.
Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi called the rejection "a devastating setback."
"While this is a devastating setback for public education, the governor's staff's willingness to meet again and devise a new proposal is encouraging. However, given the urgency of the matter, it is imperative that we come up with a workable proposal that gets students back to school before time runs out," he said.
Lingle’s staff met with education officials and Toguchi for nearly two hours this morning at the state Department of Education building on Miller Street. Marie Laderta, director of the state Department of Human Resources Development, and Georgina Kawamura, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, also attended the meeting.
On Dec. 28, the DOE announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the teachers union to effectively eliminate furlough Fridays for the current school year. The agreement did not deal with next school year.
Under the agreement, $35 million from the state rainy day fund would restore five furlough days. Under that plan, 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.
Thus, seven of the 10 remaining furlough days for the 2009-2010 school year would be restored. But by moving the remaining three furlough days to the end of the year, furlough Fridays would have been eliminated.
Toguchi said education officials were told during the meeting that the tentative agreement that had been reached with HSTA is effectively dead.
Smith said additional meetings may be held as early as tomorrow with the BOE and DOE negotiating teams, lead by BOE members John Penebacker and Janis Akuna.
“It (the previous agreement) is a foundation that we hope to build on, make it more holistic and apply to not only this school year but next school year,” Smith said.