Union, state closer on many issues, disagree on evaluations, pay

Published On: Dec 11 2012 10:46:00 PM HST

"I've been around when literally every teacher around me has left, said Campbell High School teacher Corey Rosenlee.

The teacher's union says more than 1,000 teachers are leaving or retiring every year in Hawaii, and Rosenlee feels years of stumbling contract talks are about to make a bad situation a critical one.

"Right now, we don't have enough people to fill the classrooms. We have to get emergency hires, we have substitutes," Rosenlee said.

The state's latest offer includes $49 million of new compensation -- $11 million more than in the last state proposal.

It would restore 5 percent wage cuts and offer other support, as well as bonuses for so-called "highly effective" teachers.

"I think the contract proposal speaks for itself and I'm confident the public will conclude the board of education has done an excellent job," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The state says the offer includes 24 out of 30 items already agreed to by the union but that offer was taken off the table last week after HSTA rejected the package as a whole.

"To walk away and have a 'take it or leave it' attitude in this negotiating process is not fair," said HSTA president Wil Okabe.

He said increased health care costs would negate the first year of 2 percent annual increases, that teachers would lose out on about $100 million in reimbursement pay, and he feels evaluations rely too heavily on test scores.

"They say to me we're OK with being evaluated.  Bring it on.  But we want it to be a fair process," said Rosenlee.

Teachers have been trying to have a hand into how their evaluated.

HSTA held a series of town hall meetings in October, then just put out a survey to its members to get their final input.

"I'm supporting the teachers and the staff who have worked hard to put these evaluations together. The program needs a chance to operate," said Abercrombie.

The state had hoped to resume negotiations on Dec. 19, but HSTA negotiators pushed it to Jan. 11.



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