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Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Ocean View's Hershberger is Thomas A. Jaggar
 A Walk into the Past with Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar is this Friday, Aug. 11, with two sessions, 9:30 a.m .— 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m. and every Friday until September. Walk back to 1912 and meet the founder of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at the edge of Kīlauea volcano. Dressed in period costume, Ocean View actor-director Dick Hershberger brings the renowned geologist to life. Jaggar guides a short walk to the crater rim behind Volcano House, near his former lab. Learn what motivated him to dedicate his life to the study of Hawaiian volcanoes, and how his work helps save lives today. Space is limited; pick up a free ticket at Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai on the day of the program.
Supported by Kīlauea Drama Entertainment Network (KDEN).
TWO PĀHALA FIRES ON MILL CAMP ROAD below Pikake Street were quenched by firefighters and the Macadamia company crew on Wednesday. Hawai‘i Island police have initiated an arson investigation.
At 1:17 p.m., Hawai‘i Fire Department received a report of several brush fires on Mill Camp Road in Pāhala. Upon arrival, firefighters determined there were two separate fires burning: one on either side of Mill Camp Road. Although they were burning in the same general area, the origin of each fire appeared to be different.
    Detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigation Section responded to the fire scene and were able to determine that one of the fires had burned an area approximately a quarter acre in size on the east side of
Mill Camp Road. They determined that this wildfire was a result of an unattended cooking fire that caught a nearby brush on fire.
    It was then determined that the second fire, which also burned an area approximately a quarter acre in size on the west side of Mill Camp Road, may have been intentionally set. An incendiary device was found on the roadway in the area where investigators believe the wildfire originated.
    Both fires were quickly brought under control and extinguished by Hawai‘i Fire Department personnel. No injuries were reported and no property loss was sustained as a result of these wildfires.
    During their investigation, detectives determined that shortly after the fires started a male operating a green All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) was seen leaving the area of Mill Camp Road. The identity of the male is unknown at this time.
    Police believe that the fires in Pāhala are unrelated to the wildfires in the North and South Kohala Districts. The cause of those fires is undetermined and Hawai‘i Fire Department reports Akoni Pule Highway, Highway 270 in Kohala, and Mauna Kea Beach Drive which are reopened. Mandatory evacuations of Kohala Ranch and Mauna Kea Resort at the Villas residential area are lifted, at this time. There were no road closures and no active evacuations Wednesday evening on this island.
    Anyone with information on the wildfires on Mill Camp Road in Pāhala is encouraged to contact Detective Donovan Kohara at (808) 960-3118; or via email at donovan.kohara@hawaiicounty.gov. Also, contact the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.
    Citizens who wish to remain anonymous can make an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300 and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers does not record any calls or subscribe to caller ID.
    Another wildfire broke Wednesday about above the police department in Nā‘ālehu on the mauka slope and was extinguished by firefighters.

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A SIGNIFICANT DECREASE IN TEACHER VACANCIES when public schools across the state fully reopened on Tuesday is being touted by the union, Hawai‘i State Teachers Association. It released a statement noting that the state Department of Education reports roughly 340 vacancies statewide, compared to more than 1,000 vacancies at the start of last school year. Hawai‘i public schools are governed by one statewide school board and administered under the state government. The union is also statewide. HSTA's statement explains the following:
    “The big drop in educator vacancies is a direct result of pay hikes and other important improvements the HSTA has advocated for in recent years,” said Hawai‘i State Teachers Association President Osa Tui, Jr. “From higher pay in the contract that starts with bigger paychecks this month, to fixing compressed pay for veteran educators last year, to shortage differentials created three years ago, the HSTA successfully fought for one increase after another and our keiki are being better served with less teacher turnover as a result,” Tui added.

Teachers union chief Osa Tui.   
    Under the four-year contract that began this school year, most teachers will receive raises of about 5% which will start showing up in the paychecks of 10-month teachers on Aug. 17. Twelve-month and multi-track teachers should have seen an increase on July 20, with their first paychecks of the 2023–2024 school year.
    Returning teachers who did not receive a compression pay adjustment last school year will receive one-time $3,000 lump sum payments in their Sept. 5 paychecks.
    Even emergency hires' pay jumped - from about $39,000 to $50,000 this year.
   “Hopefully that would entice more to join us and make it easier for those of us who are already on the field to survive,” said Logan Okita, a teacher at Nimitz Elementary School and HSTA’s vice president.
    After advocacy by HSTA, Hawai‘i Department of Education debuts a new online jobs portal, notes HSTA.
    The HIDOE agrees that the new online teaching jobs portal has helped. It is something the HSTA requested years ago. Launched May 16, the portal allows teacher candidates to apply for positions at their preferred schools and choose teaching subjects in which they are interested. Previously, interested candidates would apply to an open job pool and then be sent to a school with a vacant position. The portal also aims to fill positions faster.
     “We moved away from pool-based recruiting to community-based recruiting,” HIDOE Recruitment Administrator Gary Nakamura told Honolulu Civil Beat, which also reported that the platform has gathered more than 3,400 teacher applications so far with 967 new teachers brought into the system for the new school year.
  The HSTA President said, “It’s nice that these teaching applicants have access to the portal. Many of our current teachers would like to have similar access to openings throughout the state and they do not. Disparities between positions teachers already in the system have access to and positions new hires have access to must be fixed.”
    Former HSTA president Corey Rosenlee, a social studies teacher at Campbell High School, said, “Kudos to the HIDOE for finally creating a portal. We’ve been asking them to do this for years.”
    This year the state hired 80 educators from the Philippines as a part of its recruitment efforts to fill vacancies across the state; 10 are preparing for classes to start next week at Lāna‘i High and Elementary School.
    They are allowed to teach in Hawai‘i on three-year contracts that can be extended to a maximum of five years through the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 Visa program.
    A statement from the teachers union said, "That’s less than ideal because Hawai‘i’s students need educators who will stay for decades or their entire careers to stabilize our teaching workforce." Tui said,
“We want to do everything we can to get especially local folks to get into these teaching positions because they’ll have roots. When something goes bad, they don’t just fly away to the mainland or wherever they came from.”
    On its teacher recruiting website, HIDOE said, “We are pleased to announce that we have secured limited funding to provide a one-time, taxable $2,000 relocation bonus for eligible individuals who are recruited from out-of-state and hired for the upcoming 2023–2024 school year.” The teachers from the Philippines are eligible for that relocation bonus.
    In January, the Hawai‘i Teacher Standards Board rejected a request by the state education department for an exception to the state’s teacher licensing requirements that would have granted teachers recruited from the Philippines provisional licenses. HIDOE unsuccessfully asked for permission to hire them without meeting HTSB’s basic skills and content knowledge requirements and Social Security number requirements.
    McKinley High special education teacher Laverne Moore said, “The special treatment that they gave to those 80 teachers from the Philippines, that same special treatment should be given to our local educators, our long-term substitutes, our educational assistants who are here and going to stay.”
    “Invest in our people here. Homegrown is our best remedy for the teacher shortage crisis. They will be our base for the future,” said Moore, HSTA’s teacher lobbyist who appeared live on HNN’s Sunrise program Thursday morning.
    Last month, Jonathan Okamura, a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa emeritus professor who spent most of his career in UH’s Ethnic Studies Department, wrote an opinion piece about the recruiting effort in Honolulu Civil Beat. He said bringing in teachers from the Philippines will help decrease the teacher shortage and increase the number of Filipino educators in public schools, which numbered just 8% before the cadre of recruits arrived this school year.
    But Okamura added that HIDOE should also focus teacher recruitment efforts on Filipino educators already in our state.
    “While I fully support the hiring of teachers from the Philippines,” Okamura wrote, “I also am aware 
See the new portal for hiring at Hawai‘i public schools at
that in Hawai‘i there are already hundreds of, and probably more, Filipino immigrants, who are former teachers with college degrees in education and teaching experience. The DOE should consider recruiting some of them to become public school teachers.”
   Several other efforts are underway to help attract and retain more public school educators in the state. They include:
    A new initiative approved by state lawmakers and the governor to build tens of millions of dollars in housing for public school employees on Maui, Hawai‘i Island, Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.
    A Grow Our Own program that offers free college tuition to educational assistants, instructors and others who lack undergraduate degrees.
    A paid teacher internship program to encourage more people to enter the field.
   A registered teacher apprenticeship program, which HIDOE and the Board of Education have identified as a goal in their strategic plan.
    Programs for recent high school graduates to get certified as substitute teachers in partnership with HIDOE and schools such as Waipahu High, Farrington High and Pearl City High.

THE LADDER OF ASSUMPTIONS: A Tool for Self-Reflection & Understanding is the topic of this month's Brown Bag Lunch session on Thursday, Aug. 17, sponsored by Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center from noon to 1 p.m. The talk is of the Finding Solutions, Growing Peace series, third Thursdays. 
    Speaker Sandra DeLateur focuses on the book by Dr. Jack Hamilton and Elisabeth Seaman titled Conflict Resolution in Daily Life. The aim is to help "us better understand how we often react instantly based on incomplete information and unconscious perceptions," says DeLateur.
    In this talk, learn how to identify responding to people based on incorrect assumptions to help prevent conflict and resolve misunderstandings.
    DeLateur, Esq. is an attorney, mediator, and hearing officer who, after 25 years of practicing law, limited her practice to alternative dispute resolution. In 2021, she founded Community Conflict Resolution Services to offer communication workshops and mediation to improve harmony and foster good relationships. Helping people resolve their disagreements out of court leads to greater satisfaction in the resolution and to future happiness in general.
    Ku‘ikahi's Brown Bag Lunch Series is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to enjoy an informal and educational talk-story session and connect with others interested in Finding Solutions, Growing Peace.
    To get the Zoom link, register online at https://freebrownbagtalk.eventbrite.com.
    For more information, contact Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center at (808) 935-7844 or info@hawaiimediation.org. Or visit www.hawaiimediation.org.
   This lunch-and-learn series is made possible in part to funding from County of Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Island United Way.

POLICE ARRESTED 14 FOR DUI during the week of July 31 through Aug, 7. Hawai‘i Island police made the arrests for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Three of the drivers were involved in a traffic collision. None arrested were under the age of 21.
    So far this year, there have been 580 DUI arrests compared with 612 during the same period last year, a decrease of 5.2 percent.
    Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 507 major collisions so far this year compared with 480 during the same period last year, an increase of 5.6 percent.
   To date, there have been nine fatal crashes, resulting in 10 fatalities, (one of which had multiple deaths); compared with 23 fatal crashes, resulting in 25 fatalities (one of which had multiple deaths) for the same time last year. This represents a decrease of 60.9 percent for fatal crashes and 60 percent for fatalities.
   To date, the non-traffic fatality count (not on a public roadway) so far this year is 1 compared to 0 non-traffic fatalities for the same time last year.
    HPD promises that DUI roadblocks and patrols will continue island-wide.

5,000 in the mail, 2,500 on the street.