Bills to pay teachers for years of service, assure shortage differentials pass Senate money panel
Senators amend the bill to assure eligible charter teachers would also receive pay boosts
News Release from HSTA, February 18, 2022
The Senate Ways and Means Committee Friday approved two measures aimed at paying teachers for their years of service and continuing shortage differentials. The bills passed with no objections made by senators on the powerful money panel and they have already been unanimously approved by the Senate Education Committee. The full Senate will consider the measures next and then they will cross over to the House for further hearings.
Educators and members of the community turned in more than 300 pages of written testimony, the overwhelming majority of it supporting the two proposals.
Teacher testimony: ‘This legislation would be incentive to work a few years longer’
Unlike many school districts in the country, Hawaii educators’ years of experience are not automatically taken into consideration to determine when they earn salary movements. Hawaii public school teachers only receive increased pay for years of service if those rates are negotiated with the state, which has rejected increases during economic downturns.
About 8,700 of Hawaii’s 13,500 public and charter school teachers would have their annual salaries adjusted anywhere from $7,700 to $26,000 under SB2819, depending on their years of service. Read more about the proposal here.
Aurene Padilla, a 26-year public school teacher, serves as the Induction and Mentoring Program coordinator on Oahu serving Leilehua, Mililani, and Waialua complex areas.
“As a teacher working in multiple schools with beginning teachers who are emergency hires, I know first hand how important it is to retain our veteran teachers on our campuses. Due to salary compression many of my colleagues are not earning a salary commensurate with the years of experience that they have dedicated to Hawaii’s keiki,” Padilla said.
WHAT IS SALARY COMPRESSION?
“It is unlikely that I will reach the top of the salary class by my 30th year of teaching. In what other profession can an employee who has excellent evaluations every year, serves in leadership roles every year, earns a master’s degree in their teaching field, not reach the top of the pay scale after serving 30 years? To add insult to the injury, I’ve only recently learned that I am actually on the same pay step as teachers I mentored who have only been teaching 13 years. It is a travesty to know that our state pays a 26-year veteran and a 13-year teacher in the middle of their career the same salary,” she added.
Jerene Cluney, a teacher at Maui’s Kalama Intermediate who has been with HIDOE since 1998, also asked lawmakers to approve the pay bills.
“It will not only show that the State of Hawaii values the commitment of its teachers, but will also pave a way for future educators to stay in education which is a scenario where everyone wins! We do it for the students but not paying educators their worth sometimes forces their hands to look elsewhere for employment and that is a huge loss to our students and their families,” Cluney said.
Scott Oberg teaches at Waiakeawaena Elementary on Hawaii Island.
“I’ve taught in the DOE for the last 20 years. I am planning on retiring at 55, with 30 years’ experience. I will be able to make more money collecting retirement and getting another job than staying in the DOE,” Oberg wrote. “I would prefer to stay in the DOE, so this bill would be very motivating to stay in the teaching profession after the 30 years of service.”
Cynthia Reves, who teaches at McKinley High, wrote that she has “watched my salary stagnate. This bill will right a wrong. I am nearing retirement, but this legislation would be incentive to work a few years longer.”
Nicole Ilae, an Olomana School teacher, disclosed her low pay to lawmakers in her testimony.
“I have been a teacher for about 18 years and my net pay per month is $3999.00. I recently got divorced and had to move back in with my parents because I could not afford to rent a place for my son and me. This is absolutely ridiculous!” Ilae wrote. ”I would like to continue teaching. I really love my students and my job!”
Teachers say continuing shortage differentials will help students, schools
SB2820 would assure continued funding for differentials for nearly 4,000 educators in chronic shortage areas, paying special education classroom teachers an extra $10,000, licensed Hawaiian immersion teachers $8,000 annually, and teachers in hard-to-staff schools amounts ranging from $3,000 to $8,000 a year.
Kealakai Lindsey-Meyer, a special education teacher at Waimea High on Kauai, wrote that she’s grateful for the $10,000 SPED differential, which “not only has helped me financially but I have a sense of appreciation for the hard work I put into the overwhelming amount of paperwork and caseloads that go unnoticed by leaders and government officials.
“I know that my fellow special education colleagues feel the same way. Ensuring the continuous retention of qualified teachers for these critical teaching positions will positively impact students, schools, and their communities. Sustaining and affirming differentials as a reliable tool in its recruitment and retention efforts will in my opinion provide all of our students in Hawaii with a robust educational experience,” Lindsey-Meyer said.
A special education preschool teacher at Laie Elementary in Windward Oahu, Joli Johnston said, “I run a fully self-contained classroom (FSC) and have students in a range of disabilities from speech delays and behaviors to severely medically fragile. To say that my job can be stressful is an understatement, I once had a student who was at risk of passing away at any given moment due to the nature of her condition.”
“Adding the extra layer of the pandemic brought the requirements of my position to new heights and I have been considering resigning for over a year now. I was recently offered a job at another organization and I very nearly accepted it, but it was the presence of the SPED differential that caused me to stay in the DOE,” Johnston said.
Waianae Intermediate teacher Anne Alves told senators in her written testimony that “There’s no denying the fact that the additional income from shortage differentials was one of the deciding factors in my choosing to work at Waianae Intermediate.”
“I also knew that a sizable percentage of that additional compensation would be going right back into the classroom to help fund necessary supplies for my students. For example, last year we were informed that this year, due to budget cuts, there would not be any money for classroom supplies. So, I dug into my own pockets to purchase enough composition books, folders, pencils, color pencils, pens, erasers, glue sticks, and scissors for each student, as well as the standard, communal packs of folder paper, construction paper, cardstock, and chart paper. Why so many materials? Because of COVID, we are not permitted to allow students to share materials,” Alves wrote.
Uluhani Waialeale teaches at Kualapuʻu Public Conversion Charter School on Molokai.
“Teaching in a Hawaiian language immersion program can require double or even triple the workload of your average teacher in a regular English classroom. We spend countless hours, days, nights and weekends translating curriculum, books, resources, and prepping many other resources that are not always readily available in the Hawaiian language,” Waialeale wrote.
“The amount of time, work, and energy we put into our Hawaiian language immersion program can feel so overwhelming, burdensome, and endless,” Waialeale said. “The shortage differential was the first time that we have ever been compensated or recognized for doing any additional duties, responsibilities and time worked.”
Hawaii State Teachers Association President Osa Tui, Jr. explained in his testimony that “these differentials were effective.”
“According to the department’s own data, the number of teachers transferring into special education positions for the upcoming 2020–21 school year actually increased by 29% over the previous school year, while the number of teachers who left SpEd positions decreased by 57%. Nearly twice as many educators transferred into hard-to-staff schools for next school year compared to last, while the differentials led to a 41% decrease in those leaving hard-to-staff locations,” Tui wrote.
Senators amend bills at HSTA’s request to assure charter schools are allotted their own funds
Senators on the money committee said they would amend both the compression and differentials bills with changes that Tui suggested, allocating the funds to budget line item EDN 612, which would give the Hawaii Charter School Commission the capability to ensure the funds are appropriately distributed to charter schools to fix compression and maintain the differentials.
The HSTA calculates the dollar amounts needed for Bargaining Unit 05 members affected by compression to be, with 62.78% fringe added, about $88 million for BU 05 members at the Department of Education and $6 million for BU 05 members at our public charter schools.
Tui, a statistics expert and former math teacher, created a heat map that shows how thousands of teachers with more than ten years of service are compressed or stuck in the middle of the salary schedule, which is why the problem is called compression.
HSTA calculates the differential costs, based on Gov. David Ige’s supplemental budget, would be about $32.5 million for Bargaining Unit 05 members at the DOE and $2 million for BU 05 members at our public charter schools.
The bills are subject to amendment and change and the final outcome will not be clear unless and until lawmakers pass the bill in some form and it becomes law with or without the governor’s signature.
SA: Cost of Raises and Benefits $95M per Year