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Sunday, April 16, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, April 16, 2023

Teachers plan to vote on a new contract with the Department of Education on April 26. Photo from HSTA
THE TEACHERS UNION REACHED A TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH BOARD OF EDUCATION with a 14.5 percent increase in salaries and more benefits. Bargaining Unit 05 of the Hawai'i State Teachers Association will vote on the contract Wednesday, April 26, from 3 to 6 p.m. at various locations across the state, with tentative results released that evening.

        According to an announcement Sunday from Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association, the tentative settlement happened late Friday creating a tentative four-year contract from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2027. HSTA President Osa Tui, Jr. said, “We really have not had a chance to make substantive changes to contract language since 2013. This round of bargaining was the most collaborative I’ve experienced in my decade of negotiations with the employer. We’re also extremely grateful to Gov. Josh Green, who joined

us on the last day of bargaining and actively helped to clear some of the logjams that remained." Green plans a press conference on Monday.
    HSTA’s Negotiations Committee recommended the agreement to the Board of Directors, which voted to approve it during special meetings Saturday, sending it to the bargaining unit membership for ratification. The HSTA Board unanimously recommends members vote yes on approving the tentative agreement.
    The agreement includes salary increases in each of the next four years as well as increases in employer contribution to health premiums, supplementary pay, and changes in the salary structure, including the creation of a Class VIII and streamlining and expanding instructor pay on the schedule.
    Under the agreement, educators who did not benefit from the compression fix will receive a one-time $3,000 payment next school year. Overall, this package will increase the average teacher salary by over $10,000 without factoring in the newly-added opportunity to reclassify to Class VIII, "which approximately one-third of our bargaining unit has been waiting for," says the HSTA statement.
    The parties also agreed to permanently incorporate 21 hours of job-embedded professional development into the contract. Additional improvements in teacher working conditions, travel, assignments and transfer, due process, and teacher protections are included in the agreement. The agreement also calls for creation or continuation of a series of workgroups to address career and technical education, Hawaiian education, transfers, leave, student discipline, and English learners.    
    The HSTA President also said, “This tentative agreement, coming on the heels of major wins in fixing compression, will put our members in a much better place than they were just a year ago. This includes compensation for those who did not receive compression adjustments, substantially raising the pay of emergency hires, raising supplementary pay amounts, and at long last, establishing Class VIII on the salary schedule that many thought impossible!
    “While the state had been predicting a budget surplus, the Council on Revenues’ revised forecast slashed projections by $328 million, affecting key funding decisions. Also, a number of key education-related initiatives, including universal pre-K, developing teacher workforce housing, and state teacher tax 

Hawai'i teachers union president Osa Tui, Jr. Photo from HSTA

credits will take considerable resources to fund,” Tui said. “We had asked for significantly larger raises, but understand that the state has less money to pay for numerous key priorities in addition to addressing teacher compensation, such as creating affordable housing, bringing down the state’s high cost of living and preserving our natural resources.
    “Ultimately, the salary improvements we’ve secured and the many other improvements to contract language will benefit the public school students of Hawaiʻi who should see improved recruitment and retention of highly qualified educators to our classrooms,” said Tui.
    Diane Mokuau, HSTA Negotiations Committee chair, said, “Your Negotiations Team spent many days away from their students and on weekends and holidays not only to earn hard-fought gains for this contract but also to resist a number of takebacks from the employer.
    HSTA reports that it succeeded in holding back a number of proposals from Department of Education, including:
    A two-year contract with salary increases of 3% each year with no step movements, which would have caused even more salary compression;
    Thirty credits to move from Class VII to Class VIII, when all other reclassification movements are 15 credits;
    Forcing non-classroom teachers to substitute purely at the principal’s discretion;
    Having teachers administer student medications;
    Not providing sick leave up front and moving to an accrual system, and prohibiting any leave adjacent to school breaks;

    Not renewing a number of memoranda of understanding, including supplementary pay for grade level/department chairs and others, and continuing to work on issues related to the Teacher Assignment and Transfer Program;
    Allowing principals to determine the manner and time at which teachers check in to indicate presence;
    Sabbatical leave for no more than, instead of at least, 50 teachers subject to funding;
    Making permanent the contract procedures around emergency closures instead of just being a pilot project; and
    Mandating that HSTA provide 90 days advance notice to release teachers for union business during work days, instead of the current five days.
    "While the Negotiations Team tried to secure as many items in HSTA’s initial proposals as possible, not all items survived which is the nature of bargaining. HSTA will continue to advocate for those priorities that did not make it into the tentative agreement," says the teachers union statement.
HSTA also announced an informational webinar with its President and with its Chief Negotiator Andrea Eshelman on Monday, April 24, at 4:30 p.m. The session will be recorded and posted on HSTA's website.      See more on Hawai'i State Teachers Association at https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiStateTeachersAssociation/ and https://www.hsta.org

FOR PHARMACY DEGREES AVAILABLE AT UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI'I IN HILO, the college is looking for students who want to study hard and serve their community. Graduates of the Daniel K. Inouye School of Pharmacy have the opportunity to work at home or travel to a new place to become a researcher, or pharmacist in a hospital, clinic, retail location or a non-profit. 
   The School has contributed extensive outreach in Kaʻū and Miloli'i with health checks and other services. The School of Pharmacy is also planning to add veterinary pharmacy to its curriculum, which could apply to caring for and researching medicines for domestic animals and wildlife.   
Daniel K. Inouye  School of Pharmacy plans a veterinary pharmacy
program and more with an interest in enrolling more students.
Photo from U.H. Hilo
    A challenge is that School of Pharmacy enrollment is down, from 213 students last year to 156 students this year. This means the college presents a significant opportunity for professors and other faculty members to offer personal attention to students. The faculty numbers 27 working full-time and part-time. That's under six students per faculty member. 
     The School of Pharmacy recently made an investment of $31 million for a new facility. 
    The programs at the School of Pharmacy are described as rigorous with new emphasis on such fields as pharmacogenomics, involving gene interactions with medication. There is also more focus on specialty pharmacy and interaction with the community with plans for additional screening and partnering students with professionals already working in the field.
    The new Veterinary Pharmacy Certificate program will give students the opportunity to study and care for companion and farm animals. Students will learn treatment of animals with medicine and also about zoonotic diseases that spread from animals to humans, a field that was busy during the recent and other pandemics. Careers could range from working in a veterinary pharmacy, a government research, health or animal care agency, or non-government entity that does research or animal care.
    Learn more about the School of Pharmacy and applying to enroll at https://pharmacy.uhh.hawaii.edu/

UPCOMING TROJAN SPORTS for Track & Field, Boys Baseball, Girls Softball and Boys Volleyball, under Athletic Director Jaime Guerpo:
    In Boys Varsity Volleyball, under Coach Josh Ortega, Trojans host Ka Umeke on Monday, April 17 at 5 p.m. On April 21 through April 26 are playoffs and championship games.
    BIIF playoffs for Girls Softball start Monday, April 17 with finals ending on April 29.
    BIIF playoffs for Boys Baseball start April 17 with finals ending on April 28.
   In Track, under Coach Tolu Rasmussen. The Freshman-Sophomore Invitational is on Saturday, April 22 at 9 a.m. at Kea'au. BIIF Trials are Friday, April 28 at 2 p.m. at Kea'au, followed by Finals on Saturday, April 29 at 3 p.m. Kea'au.



Volcano Thursday Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See Volcano Evening Market facebook.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music. 

Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

O Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner Kona Dr. Drive and Hwy 11, near Thai Grindz. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no rez needed. Parking in the upper lot. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.