Yesterday Senators Hidani, Fevella, and Kanuha met with stakeholders and community members on SB2488 which has now been expanded to include not only a remedy to the compression (lack of adequate salary advancement for experience) but also supplemental compensation for hard to fill positions in special education, Hawaiian immersion, and rural schools.

Over 300 written testimonials were received before the meeting. Chair, Michelle Kidani, called on the superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimota, HSTA president Corey Rosenlee, representatives of organizations, teachers and other community members to speak.

I was able to present our Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i interests and concerns– that we know teachers are the most important factor in school, that we want highly qualified, experienced teachers for our keiki,  and that we see great teachers leaving and stressed by having to work 2 and 3 jobs to teach while living here in this expensive economy.

One by one teachers told stories of passionate desire to teach and mentor students and of sacrifices by them and their families. At times each of the three senators and most of us in the hearing shed tears.

The senators voted to affirm support for this bill. The bill authorizes $25 million for these teacher pay remedies. This is not considered enough to cover the costs, but this is all the Hawaii state budget, worked on since October, can afford. We will all need to be vigilant to see that this bill is passed and that additional funds can be accessed from other budget lines to fund this critical step in solving our teacher retention crisis.

We are very grateful for the work of Chair Kidani, Vice Chair Kim, and Senators Fevella, Kanuha, and Dela Cruz. After the meeting, I received this letter from Senator Kidani in response to our written testimony:

Aloha Deborah,

As introducer of this bill, I totally agree with you that our teachers are very much deserving of a salary increase.
It is my plan to pass this bill out of my committee tomorrow and move it on to the Committee on Ways and Means. Because of previous discussions with colleagues in both the House and Senate, I have every faith that there is support and this bill will pass.
Thank you for your support of our teachers.
Senator Michelle Kidani