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Teachers union gets latest state offer, asks for negotiations

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:55 p.m. HST, Mar 19, 2012

The union for Hawaii's public school teachers said today it has received the latest contract offer from the state and is asking to return to the bargaining table.

The statement from the Hawaii State Teachers Association follows a news release from Gov. Neil Abercrombie that the state sent the union a settlement offer.

The governor's statement said the state offer "is not in agreement" with the previous contract proposal submitted by the union Feb. 28.

"The HSTA proposal is fiscally irresponsible and devoid of reasonable policy regarding standards and performance," the governor's statement said. "It is a priority of this administration to engage in collective bargaining that is financially sound and advances student achievement and support for teachers in the classroom.

"We have made a settlement offer to HSTA that reflects the pilot performance-based evaluation system which includes student outcomes. This system, as proposed, incorporates protocols that prevent arbitrary personnel consequences. This offer also includes improving the probation and evaluation system for teachers that will be hired in the future.

"Our focus remains making an education transformation that is necessary to ensure better learning in the classroom for all students.

"We look forward to HSTA accepting this settlement offer."

The union said it is asking the state to set a date for a return to negotiations.

Neither side said it would release details of their latest respective proposals.

The labor dispute began July 1 when the state imposed a "last, best and final" contract offer for teachers. The offer included wage reductions and higher health care costs.

The state and union negotiators reached a tentative agreement on a contract, but union members voted to reject it Jan. 19.

The labor dispute contributed to the U.S. Department of Education's decision in December to put Hawaii's $75 million Race to the Top grant on high-risk status and warn the money could be lost.

Federal reviewers are scheduled to visit on March 27 to rate Hawaii's progress on key Race to the Top initiatives.

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