April 2 Legislative Update

SB1080 – The vehicle that will fund any raises we are able to negotiate in our re-opener is ready for our settlement.  As the Negotiations Team goes back to the bargaining table on April 9, we are hopeful that everything can come together for our teachers in the very near future.

SB 822 – The fix for Act 167 unanimously passed out of Finance with kudos from the chair about the universal support for the changes HSTA sought to correct the current law.  Its current form makes the simple, clear message:  Students will have 180 days of school, for a total of 1080 student hours (1080 hours divided by 180 days results in 180 days that are each 6 hours in length).  Further, the language now reflects that those 1080 hours cover anything that is related to students, learning, practicing and/or demonstrating the General Learner Outcomes.  The bill now heads to the House and Senate chambers.  If it passes successfully out of both, it will be sent to the Governor’s office for his approval.  With his signature, our public schools can immediately get to work on creating schedules that are sane, sensible, and best serves their students.  Fingers crossed, we’ll have an answer in 2 weeks.

HB 11 – Support for our National Board Certified Teachers continues as the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed out the amended version of HB 820.  Although the language for Title 1 schools was removed, HSTA’s language to make sure that NBCTs who were getting the secondary bonus would continue to receive it for the life of their NBCT license or should they leave their school (whichever comes first) regardless of any change in school designation.  So far, this looks good, so NBCT teachers, feel free to drop a quick note of thanks and support to any and all of the following:  Senate Education Chair Kidani, House Education Chair Takumi, Senate Ways and Means Chair Tokuda, House Finance Chair Luke, members of the Education and Money committees.  This is real money and it is not done yet, so your good words can still go a long way.

HB 84 – It was gratifying to see so much comprehensive support for our Hawaiian Immersion schools during the testimonies supporting the creation of non-translated annual assessments in the Hawaiian language for ka papahana kaiapuni students.  Support from the DOE, OHA, numerous Hawaiian Civic groups and other community groups demonstrates the power of working together.  HSTA was there to join the chorus of support, but we also made sure that both the House and Senate Education Committees, as well as the DOE, OHA and other entities, understood that our students, teachers and schools must be protected from the negative impact of the testing regime until the tests are fully on line. 

HB 1251 – The legislature is working to try to address the facilities needs of both our Public Charter Schools and Hawai’i’s Early Learning programs with this bill.  It would provide both entities the opportunity of “first dibs” for using facilities when and state agency has a vacancy. With some creative amendments, there may also be opportunities for use of General Obligation Bonds which will also enhance funding opportunities.

SCR 94 – The Senate Education Committee passed out a resolution to have The Committee on Weights, once again, look at the Weighted Student Formula (WSF) with an eye to correcting the long standing problem that the underfunding of the current SWF causes for Hawai’i’s remotely located schools.  It is our hope that the full legislative body will make sure this is concern is addressed.

SCR 99 – We appreciate the Senate Education Committee’s vote of confidence related to their support of providing teachers with Purchasing Cards for use when purchasing school supplies as part of their program allocations.  Their recognition that teachers are good financial stewards of state resources will hopefully lead to actionable legislation in this area next session.

SCR 100 / HR 54 -  Both the House and Senate Education Committees, through this resolution are directing the Legislative Reference Bureau to work with DOE and UH to pull all data and research and make recommendations on how the state can address teacher retention issues.  HSTA is in strong support because, the full effect of the resolution demonstrates their intention to address this with actionable legislation next year. 

SCR 172 – Thank you to the Senate Education Committee for hearing our issues with Standardized Testing, understanding the growing need people feel for opting out and for accepting HSTA’s amendments as a way to address both.  Thank you to Senators Shimabukuro and Dela Cruz for drafting such a comprehensive statement about the ills of toxic testing and the best way for Congress and the Obama Administration to address it.

SCR 185 – HSTA was proud to see our public school graduates testifying on the benefits of out of school programs.  Included in each of their testimonies was a sincere and thoughtful statement about how hard their teachers worked to support them and help them overcome the challenges that they faced as children without means.  Although HSTA did not originally testify on the resolution because the subject matter was community related, the testimony of our graduates provided us with an opportunity to later weigh in with support.

2015 HSTA Lobbying Team

Wil Okabe

Joan Kamila Lewis
Teacher Lobbyist

Kendra Ito-Mizota
Government Relations Specialist

Wilbert Holck
Executive Director

Read about HSTA’s 2015 Legislative Priorities HERE » (pdf)