Teachers still have their furlough days

By MELISSA TANJI, Staff Writer, Maui News
POSTED: July 29, 2010
Today and Friday public school teachers will be on their first two furlough days of the 2010-11 school year, the teachers union said.

Although Furlough Fridays have been eliminated for public school students with all of their instructional days restored, most teachers still will have six furlough days, said Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers’ Association. Those days would normally be teachers’ planning/ preparation days with no students.

(A story beginning on Page A1 and continuing to Page A4 on Monday incorrectly indicated that teachers would not have furloughs for this school year. Teachers also are not giving back the six planning days to turn them into instructional days.)

Okabe said the six furlough days applies to those teachers on a 10-month schedule. Those on 12-month schedules, which may include staff members such as student activities coordinators and registrars, will take 10 furlough days, he said.

On days the employees are furloughed; they will not be on campus and will not be paid, Okabe said.

He said that to make up for those lost planning days, teachers have been going to their classrooms on their own time to plan and set up for the upcoming school year. Classes for most students begin Monday, although the first day of school varies from school to school and parents and guardians should check with their child’s school to verify when students should report to campus.

Okabe said the six furlough days for teachers amount to a 2.8 percent pay cut. He said he wasn’t sure how much the 10 furlough days would cost those on 12-month schedules.

The six- or 10-day furloughs for the teachers this school year were a result of an agreement reached earlier this year to end the loss of classroom instruction brought by Furlough Fridays, which began in 2009 to help relieve the state’s budget woes.

There were also 17 Furlough Fridays scheduled for this school year. But in May a public-private partnership between the state, teachers and major banks in Hawaii made it possible to restore the instructional days, the state Department of Education has said.

The state will use $57.2 million from the hurricane relief fund and $2.2 million in federal funds and will have a $10 million line of credit from local banks if needed.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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