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Public school teachers union rejects state's latest contract offer

By Mary Vorsino

LAST UPDATED: 10:16 p.m. HST, Dec 10, 2012

The public school teachers' union has turned down a state settlement offer that included the restoration of a 5 percent wage cut, 2 percent raises each year of the 2013-15 contract and $2,500 bonuses for new teachers who successfully complete probation.

The state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association will return to the bargaining table in January.

The union opted tonight to return to talks rather than accept the offer.

The state proposed to resume negotiations on Dec. 19, but HSTA said it was not available until Jan. 11, the Department of Education said.

State officials expressed disappointment — and more than a little frustration — over the union's decision not to accept the over.

"They were unwilling to accept our proposal, which we felt was generous," Board of Education member Jim Williams said. "It was a sincere offer. Regardless of your opinion, you would say it's a fair and reasonable offer."

In a statement, HSTA President Wil Okabe said the state's offer "paled in comparison to the over $100 million in wage losses teachers struggled to endure as they helped the state over the past 3 1/2 years move toward economic recovery."

He also said the state's offer required teachers to take a "blind leap of faith" by agreeing to a revamped teacher evaluation system yet to be developed.

In a news release, schools Superintendent Kathryn Mata­yo­shi said the state

remains "committed to negotiating to reach a resolution that results in a ratified contract."

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