HSTA, state reach tentative contract agreement

Published On: Mar 24 2013 07:00:00 PM HST

The state's 13,500 public school teachers are one step closer to getting the pay raises their union has pushed for more than 2 years.

HONOLULU -

After more than two years of contract talks, Hawaii's teacher's union has reached a tentative agreement with the state.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said in a statement Sunday that under the four-year deal teachers will receive annual pay raises of about 3 percent and will have a say in statewide decisions about educator evaluation.

The deal is still subject to a vote from the union's roughly 13,500 teachers.  Okabe says he's hopeful they'll approve the contract.

“This is a major breakthrough for our teachers, our students, and the future of our state. I believe this contract is fair and provides opportunities for pay increases, which are long overdue after years of sacrifice from teachers and other public employees,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.  “With the state now being administered in a fiscally sound manner and improving economic estimates by the Council of Revenues, we were able to offer a comprehensive and favorable contract.”

“Public school teachers and their union representatives are critical partners in transforming education for our students and our state,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and we remain committed to providing teachers with necessary resources and support to achieve our strategic goals.”

“The Board is appreciative of the dedication, sacrifices, and achievements of our teachers,” stated BOE Chair Don Horner.  “This agreement will allow us, together, to better support our teachers in reaching the objectives of our educational strategic plan."

The union had rejected the state's latest offer in December over concerns with pay and evaluations.

The teachers' last contract expired in June 2011.

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The following is the full statement released by Okabe:

"I am pleased that after more than two years of negotiating with the Employer, sometimes in contentious times, that the Employer and HSTA have come together on a contract offer that will serve Hawaii’s teachers and their students."

"I believe that this tentative agreement is the beginning of providing professional salaries that will attract and retain the best and the brightest into Hawaii’s classrooms."

"Hawaii’s public school teachers will see the equivalent of a 3 percent pay increase over and above the restored 5 percent cut this July.  In subsequent years, teachers will see increases of 3 percent and 3.2 percent.  This will do a lot to stabilize the teaching force, which we know will improve teaching and learning conditions."

"Teachers will be represented at the table where decisions about the future of the educator evaluation system will be made.  We want caring, committed and knowledgeable teachers in every classroom. We want an evaluation system that improves the practice of teaching that leads to improved student learning and produces real results."

"It is also important to note that the Employer has committed to providing the support necessary to make the evaluation system successful."

"Under the last, best and final offer presented to Hawaii’s teachers nearly two years ago, teachers had an increase in their health insurance premiums.  Under this agreement, we are pleased that the Employer has made a major step towards restoring the previous insurance premium percentages."

"I believe that the reason we have a tentative agreement in large part is because of the ongoing pressure teachers put on the Employer to settle the contract in the best interests of the teachers and students."

"I am hopeful that HSTA members will vote to support the agreement and then we can move on to the business of working collaboratively with all the stakeholders to transform public education in Hawaii that improves student learning and produces real results."

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