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HGEA Applauds HSTA Agreement - State Should Provide Pay Equity For School Professionals

April 19, 2023

Statement from Randy Perreira, Executive Director of HGEA

We are happy to see that the Governor and Superintendent have reached a tentative agreement with HSTA on a new contract on behalf of our public-school teachers. It is now time for these same leaders to turn their attention to the rest of the team that educates our children.

Teachers rightly deserved an increase in their contract. This is on top of substantial pay adjustments last year via “compression” from the state Legislature. Where is the pay equity for the numerous essential school professionals who feed, protect, care for and educate our students?

Teachers are not the only people who make our schools run. In fact, during the pandemic when much of the teaching was done remotely, it was the rest of the administrative and support staff who kept our schools open, caring not only for our kids but the entire community through the “grab and go” meal program. Our schools operate because Principals, Vice Principals, Educational Assistants, School Psychologists, Nurses, Speech Language Pathologists, School Security Attendants, School Food Service Managers, Custodians and many others are on the job. All of these individuals, not just teachers, have a direct impact on the wellbeing of our students. 

The DOE has continued to stall on requests to revisit the pay and working conditions for these employees. The result: high vacancy rates in some areas, an overall inability to recruit and retain necessary and critical employees, and pay inequities between job classes. DOE executives as well as the leadership of the City and County of Honolulu recently cited these very reasons to justify large increases in pay for DOE executive and elected officials. These leaders like to talk about resolving “salary inversion,” where employees make more than their supervisors. But this already exists in the DOE where, thanks to recent teacher salary adjustments, some teachers will be making more than Vice Principals and even some Principals. These disparities make it impossible for the state to recruit and retain high-quality employees.

The DOE is facing massive staff shortages. Hundreds of Educational Assistant positions remain vacant because of outrageously low pay. School Psychologists face impossible workloads due to vacancies, leaving many students without counseling. In the end, our most vulnerable students suffer because of it. 

For the good of our students and the good of our state, it’s time to tackle this crisis. Officials should give the same attention to the rest of the school-level professionals. The teacher contract is only a first step.

The DOE works because WE do.

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