Governor, superintendent seek pay raise to attract special ed teachers
The governor and schools superintendent want to raise the pay of special-education classroom teachers by $10,000 a year to attract more qualified educators.
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The governor and schools superintendent want to raise the pay of special-education classroom teachers by $10,000 a year to attract more qualified educators and combat a severe shortage in the field.
The proposal also would raise the salary of Hawaiian immersion teachers by $8,000 a year and of teachers in “hard to staff” locations by as much as $8,000 annually depending on the severity of the situation.
Gov. David Ige has scheduled a news conference at Central Middle School for this morning to endorse a Department of Education proposal to increase the pay of teachers in shortage areas, which is on the agenda for action by the Board of Education at a special meeting Thursday.
Details are revealed in a memorandum from schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to board Chairwoman Catherine Payne that is posted online with the notice for the meeting.
“Special education is a critical shortage area in
Hawaii and a lack of qualified and licensed special
education teachers has a direct educational impact on students with special needs,” Kishimoto wrote in the memo.
In the 2018-19 school year, just 84% of special-education positions and 34% of Hawaiian immersion positions were filled by qualified and licensed teachers.
In a news release, Ige’s staff said he had been working with the board and the department “to implement bold retention and recruitment strategies,” and called the proposal “phase one” in that effort.
The plan would provide extra compensation to the three categories of teachers in the same way that “shortage differentials” are paid for certain civil service positions with recognized labor shortages.
Payne said teacher
recruitment and retention
is a priority for the board, and she will be at the news conference to show her
“We are very interested in moving forward, in working with the governor and the whole community in addressing this,” she told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, speaking in her personal capacity. “I’m in support of strong efforts to address this very serious problem in our state.”
Currently, 11 civil service positions in the Department of Education qualify for such “shortage differentials,” including clinical and school psychologists; physical and occupational therapists; engineers; and public works managers.
“The department needs the flexibility like the civil service counterparts to take similar actions to attract qualified and licensed teachers into special education positions to ensure that our special needs students are given the education resources and opportunities that are required under the law,” Kishimoto wrote.
The Board of Education has authority to authorize extra compensation for teachers.
The proposal, if approved, would take effect Jan. 7. As of now, 1,691 special-education teachers, 2,109 teachers in hard-to-staff locations and 107 Hawaiian immersion teachers would qualify for the differential.
Money for the pay increases, estimated at
$30.4 million for the 2021
fiscal year, would be sought from the Legislature in the coming session. That cost breaks down as $16.9 million for special education, $12.68 million for “hard-to-staff” positions and $856,000 for the Hawaiian immersion teachers.
It’s not yet clear where the funds would come from for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The department pegs costs for the second half of this fiscal year at nearly $14.7 million for all three groups.
The department already offers a $3,000 annual pay differential for qualified, licensed teachers in hard-to-staff locations, an amount negotiated in 2007 with the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
The new proposal would offer differentials ranging from $3,000 to $8,000 for such locations, depending upon the severity of the labor shortage in the area. An $8,000 differential also would be paid to teachers at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind and at Olomana School, which educates at-risk, detained and incarcerated youth.
Kishimoto’s memo says the Hawaii State Teachers Association has been consulted and that the union believes the teacher shortage spans the whole profession and is not limited to specific areas or teaching lines. But, it said, “HSTA does not object to the proposal to recognize certain critical positions if there is a commitment to examine whether all qualified and licensed teachers should be provided with additional compensation to improve recruitment and retention.”
The superintendent’s office and HSTA President
Corey Rosenlee declined to elaborate further before today’s news conference.
The board is scheduled
to discuss and vote on the proposal at a special meeting that starts at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Queen
1390 Miller St.