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Tuesday, December 14, 2021
HSTA: Pandemic Relief Money Can Go Into Our Pockets
By News Release @ 4:50 PM :: 1262 Views :: Education K-12, Labor, COVID-19

Submit testimony to BOE about using ESSER funds to restore 21 hours

ESSER funds have been used elsewhere for items like college loan relief

News release from HSTA,  December 10, 2021

HSTA members are encouraged to submit written testimony to the Board of Education in advance of its meetings Thursday when the board will discuss how to use federal pandemic relief funds and look closer at COVID-19’s effects on schools.

Please note, these discussions take place during two different meetings, and you will need to submit separate testimony for each agenda item. Please review our instructions carefully regarding the item(s) you plan to testify on to ensure your testimony will be accepted.

Request ESSER funds to restore 21 hours

The Hawaii State Department of Education has an initial plan about how to spend the second round of federal pandemic relief funding for schools. In its latest budget summary, HIDOE reported more than $290 million remained to be allocated. The plan to spend these funds speaks to a number of things to be addressed via professional development, but not how the professional development will be conducted. This is troubling, especially in light of the removal of the 21 hours of job-embedded professional development.

Please email written testimony by 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the day before the meeting, to Testimony.BOE@boe.hawaii.gov and include the following information:

  • In the subject line, write “Testimony on use of ESSER funds to restore 21 hours.”
  • In the body of your email, state your name, position/title, and school/worksite.
  • Note that your testimony is for the Joint Student Achievement Committee and Finance and Infrastructure Committee Recommendation for Action regarding the Department of Education’s educational plan and fiscal plan to use ESSER funds.
  • Request that the board use some of this federal funding to restore educators 21 hours of job-embedded professional development, which helps teachers improve their practice and would restore a pay cut from July 1 that could help to retain our teaching workforce.
  • Note that HSTA is ready and willing to negotiate the reinstituting of 21 hours and the associated credits and pay. Many school districts across the country have even used relief funds to stabilize the teaching workforce with one-time payments and other measures.
  • School districts can also use some of the relief funds to help provide college loan relief to public school educators. If that’s something that you would benefit from, please submit written testimony advocating for that, too.

All testimony is public, however, if you do not want your personal information posted, submit your testimony as an attachment, DO NOT include identifying information in the attached testimony, and write “NO PERSONAL INFORMATION” in the subject line, as outlined here.

Still have COVID-19 concerns in the classroom?

The HSTA asked the BOE to have HIDOE keep the board and public updated on COVID-19 related matters in schools. The BOE will hear a pandemic briefing during its General Business Meeting Thursday afternoon. A written update and presentation submitted by interim Schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi was posted Friday detailing positive cases, vaccination rates, and more.

If you continue to have COVID-19 concerns for your students, coworkers and yourself, share them with the BOE through written testimony.

Please email written testimony by 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the day before the meeting, to Testimony.BOE@boe.hawaii.gov and include the following information:

  • In the subject line, write “Testimony on the HIDOE’s COVID-19 update for the 2021–22 school year.”
  • In the body of your email, state your name, position/title, and school/worksite.
  • Note that your testimony is for the General Business Meeting discussion item regarding the Department of Education’s COVID-19 update for the 2021–22 school year.
  • If there are still concerns about COVID-19 cases and protocols, or how the department is handling vaccination clinics, and other matters, share them in your written testimony.
  • State that you are commenting on the item, since you can’t oppose or support a discussion item that won’t be voted on.

All testimony is public, however, if you do not want your personal information posted, submit your testimony as an attachment, DO NOT include identifying information in the attached testimony, and write “NO PERSONAL INFORMATION” in the subject line, as outlined here.

Listen to the Board of Education meetings live Thursday

HSTA will live stream the BOE’s Thursday, Dec. 16 Joint Student Achievement and Finance and Infrastructure Committee meeting at 11 a.m. and the General Business Meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube, and these streams will be archived for later listening and viewing.

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