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Saturday, May 15, 2021
Full Text: HGEA Letter to Ige Urging Veto of $29M HSTA Bonus
By News Release @ 11:59 PM :: 2725 Views :: Education K-12, Higher Education, Labor

READ: HGEA's letter to Gov. Ige requests he veto bill giving $2,200 bonuses to teachers

News Release from HGEA, May 13, 2021

HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira sent a letter to Gov. David Ige on May 12 requesting that he veto H.B. 613, which would give all Hawaii public school teachers a one-time $2,200 bonus payment. This legislation not only violates the collective bargaining process but also unfairly rewards one group while ignoring many others who have worked on the frontlines during the pandemic.

“We believe that H.B. 613, C.D. 2 violates Article XIII, Section 2 of the Hawaii Constitution and Chapter 89 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes because the $2,200 bonus payments were not attained through the collective bargaining process. Changes to wages, hours and other conditions of work must be negotiated by the Union and the Employer prior to implementation. That did not happen here," Perreira stated. "Beyond any legal analysis this legislation is patently unfair as it rewards one segment of our education community while disregarding the contributions of others who educate our students. At a time when our state should be coming together in a unified effort to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, this divisive legislation sets us back immeasurably.”

PDF: Complete letter from Randy Perreira to Gov. Ige

May 13, 2021: READ: Teachers get bonuses; other workers left out

May 17, 2021: HGEA CALL TO ACTION: Urge Gov. Ige to Veto HB 613 Giving $2,200 Bonuses to Teachers

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HGEA Statement on the Legislature’s $29M Bonus for Teachers

From HGEA, May 06, 2021

HGEA recognizes that our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic depends on all of us collectively pulling together. Rewarding one occupation in the public sector over all others creates divisiveness and gives employees who work side-by-side the impression that the Legislature favors teachers over all other workers.

On the last day of the 2021 Legislative Session, the State Legislature passed a bill that would give every full-time and part-time public-school teacher a one-time $2,200 “bonus” payment at a total cost of $29.7 million. H.B. 613, C.D. 2 directs the Hawaii State Department of Education to expend federal pandemic relief funds on a variety of programs and projects, including the bonus for “educator workforce stabilization.”

“With distance learning, it is now more apparent than ever that success hinges on a community,” said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira. “Educators – including special education and classroom assistants, principals, counselors, librarians, specialists, support staff, custodians, food service employees, parents, and more, working together. It is unconscionable that the Legislature disregarded collective bargaining and granted this generous cash bonus to one group of employees while making significant departmental cuts elsewhere, like in higher education, which will likely lead to layoffs for others.”

HGEA, which represents over 7,350 employees in the Department of Education, cannot support singling out and rewarding one profession over all others. The federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) monies were intended to provide schools with the necessary resources to maintain the operation and continuity of all school services and not just the services provided by one profession.

The $2,200 bonus for teachers disregards the hard work and sacrifices of all other public employees who continue to provide educational and other public services and who were/are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while working on the frontlines.

Feb, 2021: Grievance: HGEA Supervises 'Learning Hubs' While HSTA Hides in Empty Classrooms

May 7, 2021: HGEA Angered by $2,200 HSTA Bonus--Legislature slashes operating funds to UH by 10% over next 2 years

HB613 Veto Coming? $2,200 Giveaway to HSTA is Illegal

SA May 9, 2021: … At the tail end of the 2021 legislative session, with no public input, lawmakers decided to use nearly $30 million in coronavirus relief money to give every full- and part-time public school teacher a $2,200 bonus.

They also told the Board of Education how to spend hundreds of millions more of pandemic relief dollars, including installing air conditioners in classrooms at a time when health officials recommend more fresh air and ventilation.

Those spending mandates, however, may run afoul of state and federal laws, some education officials say. And the Hawaii Government Employees Association called it “unconscionable” and divisive for the Legislature to single out teachers for “a generous cash bonus” while making significant budget cuts elsewhere.….

“The $2,200 bonus for teachers disregards the hard work and sacrifices of all other public employees who continue to provide educational and other public services and who were or are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while working on the front lines,” the union said in a statement Thursday.

Under state law, the Board of Education rather than the Legislature is supposed to administer, use and expend federal funds for public education. The latest infusion of federal coronavirus relief money also explicitly requires the Department of Education to consult with numerous stakeholder groups and the public in developing a plan to spend it.

But education officials said neither they nor the public had any say when legislators amended House Bill 613 late in the session to insert their spending plan for the federal monies, rather than its original language, which focused on preventing furloughs and layoffs of unionized school staff.

BOE Chairwoman Catherine Payne said the Legislature did include some board priorities, such as addressing learning loss with summer programs, but other items such as air conditioners are far afield. And in any case, it is the board’s responsibility to steward federal funds.

“Not a single legislator will ever be held accountable for how the money is spent,” Payne said. “The governor, the board and the Department of Education will be. We are the ones that will have to be really, really careful and thorough and not politically motivated.”…

“I have some concerns about whether these funds might be put in jeopardy,” she added. “The requirements are that they are spent by the Department of Education in very specific ways that they have identified.”…

“We are in consultation with the feds and we are waiting further guidance on the allowability of this plan,” said Brian Hallett, assistant superintendent and chief financial officer for the DOE. “On its face value, there appears to be inconsistencies with state and federal guidelines.”…

“The Legislature has a legitimate, important, constitutionally mandated role in public K-12 education in Hawaii,” said Terrence George, president and CEO of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. “But the following two actions are not part of that legitimate role: passing middle-of-the-night laws to usurp the Board of Education’s sole authority to set up qualifications in the superintendent search process or to control how federal funds are to be spent to reduce the pandemic’s effect on learning.

“I’m troubled by these developments,” George added. “In the midst of the worst year for learning for our students in at least a decade, we need to stop undercutting each other and start working together to help our education system chart a safe path to learning recovery.”

Gov. David Ige has until June 21 to indicate which bills he may veto, and the deadline to take action on bills is July 6. If he were to veto HB 613, decisions on use of the coronavirus relief funds would likely revert to the Board of Education….

HSTA: FAQ: How do teachers get paid over the summer?

read … Teacher bonuses, classroom ACs may not be best use of federal coronavirus relief funds for Hawaii, officials say

Legislature looted COVID aid to pay off HSTA

Shapiro May 9, 2021: … The disconnect is striking between the Legislature’s chest- thumping over its accomplishments during its 2021 session and public frustration over misplaced priorities.

It’s because lawmakers too often give priority service to a constituency of special interests that fuel their elections, rather than the actual constituency of voters.….

Hawaii has been among the slowest states to reopen public schools to in-person instruction despite having one of the lowest COVID rates, in part because of resistance from the politically influential teachers union.

How did legislators respond? They used nearly $30 million of federal relief funds intended to help students recover from lost schooling to pay $2,200 bonuses to all 13,500 public school teachers — the only state workers given such munificence despite relatively little front-line pandemic exposure.

Another $110 million went to install air conditioning in schools, a long-standing gripe of teachers that had little to do with the pandemic.

As teachers dominated the conversation with whining about their bosses, pay and working conditions, needs of left-behind students were secondary….

read … Legislature used COVID aid to help well-off stay that way

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Act now so the governor doesn’t veto $2,200 teacher payments

Tell Gov. David Ige you support HB613 and ask him to sign the measure into law

From HSTA, May 7, 2021

The Hawaii State Teachers Association is extremely grateful to state lawmakers for unanimously approving a school budget bill that includes one-time $2,200 payments to teachers to help combat the teacher shortage crisis and stabilize the state’s teaching force.

Now, we have to convince Gov. David Ige to sign the measure into law.

The governor is publicly asking for comment on bills he has before him. Please take a few minutes to fill out this short electronic form and tell the governor to support HB613. In the message section, write a few sentences explaining why you need the $2,200 and why these payments are important to help retain teachers.

SUBMIT YOUR MESSAGE HERE

Feel free to use the following talking points in your message:

  • Incentivizing educators to stay on the job next school year by providing them one-time payments is an appropriate use of federal pandemic relief funds that other school districts across the country have also done.
  • Each year, Hawaii faces 1,000 public school educator vacancies as part of a chronic teacher shortage. These payments will help retain more qualified educators since their pay ranks among the lowest in the country when Hawaii’s high cost of living is factored in.

Mahalo to the legislative leadership for taking action to ensure there are enough teachers to open the schools safely in the fall. We’d like to particularly thank Senate President Ron Kouchi, House Speaker Scott Saiki, Senate Education Chair Michelle Kidani, House Education Chair Justin Woodson, Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz, and House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke for having the foresight to pass this legislation. Mahalo, also, to all legislators for their unanimous support of HB613.

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