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URGENT: Testimony needed by Friday for major House hearing on teacher compensation

SB2488 would fund salary compression fix, shortage differentials next year

Over the past several weeks, we have been asking you to prepare your personal experience and perspective on teacher compensation and share it with your legislators. Now, we want you to tell that story on a larger scale.

The House Committee on Labor & Public Employment, along with the Committee on Lower & Higher Education, will hear SB2488, SD2 Relating to teacher compensation on Friday, March 13, at 2 p.m. at the Hawaii State Capitol, Room 309. Written and oral testimony will be accepted.

Currently the language in this bill will:

  1. Make the necessary salary adjustments for approximately 6,300 experienced senior teachers by recognizing their professional service to the Department of Education through discretionary salary adjustments,
  2. Provide funding for additional teacher pay for the areas of special education, hard-to-staff geographic locations, and Hawaiian language immersion programs, or
  3. Some combination of (1) and (2). 

The bill also requires a signed Memorandum of Agreement between the state superintendent and HSTA.

In the Senate, lawmakers increased the bill's base amount from $25 million to nearly $26.8 million with an additional $1.9 million for public charter school teachers, plus $9 million for fringe, which covers additional costs, such as retirement benefits, that would accrue should the bill become law. In all, the bill provides more than $37 million for teacher compensation.

While this was a positive development, an additional $45 million is needed to fully fund both shortage differentials and salary adjustments, plus fringe costs.

Please submit testimony in support of this bill to the House Committee on Labor & Public Employment and the Committee on Lower & Higher Education. It should be addressed to Chair Johanson and Chair Woodson. If you have submitted testimony previously on this bill, please revise it to address the new committees.

Submit testimony through your capitol.hawaii.gov account (you can create one by clicking on "Register" in the upper right corner). Once you are logged in, navigate to the SB2488, SD2 web page and click on "Submit Testimony." Another option is to email LABtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov and include in the subject line: Testimony in support of SB2488, SD2, Committee on Labor & Public Employment and Committee on Lower & Higher Education, Friday, March 13, at 2 p.m.

Please try to submit your testimony by Thursday, March 12, at 2 p.m. so it can be included in lawmakers' initial packets, however testimony will be accepted until the hearing begins Friday, March 13, at 2 p.m.

If you haven’t written testimony yet, start by introducing yourself with your name, school, position/grade/subjects, and how long you’ve been teaching. In general, we’d like you to explain that spending $37 million on compression and the shortage differentials next year is appreciated, but $45 million plus fringe is needed to assure the salary adjustment to fix compression happens along with continuing the hard-to-staff, SPED and Hawaiian language immersion shortage differentials.

We've included a template that you can copy and paste, but please revise the parts in red to share your own story.


TESTIMONY BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON LABOR & PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT AND COMMITTEE ON LOWER & HIGHER EDUCATION

RE: SB 2488, SD2 RELATING TO TEACHER COMPENSATION

FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2020

2 P.M.

Chair Johanson, Chair Woodson, and committee members:

My name is [INSERT NAME]. I am a [INSERT POSITION] at [INSERT SCHOOL] in [INSERT DISTRICT] on [INSERT ISLAND]. I am submitting testimony in support of SB 2488, SD2.

Please provide enough funds to fix the teacher salary compression issue, and provide funding for the pay differentials for teachers in special education, Hawaiian language immersion, and hard-to-staff positions to show that we as a state value our hardworking teachers. The Department of Education will need $45 million more plus fringe costs to fully fund these essential needs for our teachers. Fixing the compression issue will place our teachers where they should be for their many years of service, and funding the differentials will help us recruit and retain our teachers in the hardest-to-fill areas. Our teachers are worth it as they are important for the future of our keiki.

[In one or two short paragraphs, tell your personal story or specific anecdotes about how fixing the salary compression issue and/or differentials will help you, and/or others to remain public school teachers, librarians, or counselors, help your students, or how it will help other teachers from leaving the profession or our state. See prompts for each category and background information below.]

We need your help. Mahalo.

[INSERT NAME, DISTRICT, ISLAND]


Background and talking points

Compression

Please discuss the importance of adjusting veteran teachers’ pay who were not given regular step increases during hard economic times. For instance, are you planning to retire soon but would consider staying a few more years if your pay increases? Are you thinking about teaching elsewhere so your years of service will be properly honored, or leaving the teaching profession altogether because the cost of living has outpaced your salary? How many times have you seen educators quit in the middle of the school year, leaving students with long-term substitutes who aren’t qualified? Those are the kinds of specific stories legislators will respond to. Please focus on how the salary adjustments will help ease the teacher shortage crisis and improve the lives of students because experienced educators will be more inclined to stay in the classroom.

Click here for more information on compression.

Shortage differentials

Differentials for educators in three of the worst shortage areas (SPED, hard-to-staff, and Hawaiian language immersion) began last month, but the Legislature needs to approve money for them to continue next school year, and the governor has requested funding for that in his budget. If you teach in any of these areas or know about the shortages that exist and how they affect students, please share specific stories with lawmakers.

Click here for more information on shortage differentials.


We know the hearing will take place on a school day, but if you happen to be available, please help us fill the room with red shirts. Feel free to also forward this email to friends and coworkers so they can send in testimony as well.

Make sure you're subscribed to our Member Matters e-newsletter. During the legislative session, we usually receive just 48 hours notice about committee hearings, leading to our urgent, last-minute testimony requests.

Mahalo for all you do!

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