Teachers say furloughs mean more missed school days

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Public school students could miss three more school days due to furloughs proposed by the governor. Teachers say with all the time already lost because of the pandemic, the plan is unacceptable.

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The state schools superintendent sent an email to teachers calling for them to take six furlough days next semester. With all the distance learning and missed school days this year, teachers wonder how much more they, the students and their parents can take.

The plan calls for teachers to take six furlough days between January 4 and June 1. Principals and DOE office workers who work year-round will be furloughed 10 days between January 4 and June 28. Teachers say the proposal would mean at least three instructional days will be lost. And that’s on top of the nine already missed this school year.

“In a year when we already had to test the flexibility of everyone in the community, the parents are now gonna be asked to try and throw in yet another variable for when their children are or are not going to school,” said Lisa Morrison, teacher at Maui Waena Intermediate School.

She adds that teachers are already underpaid and are constantly asked to do more.

“One thing that’s pretty frustrating is to be called an essential worker when it’s convenient for people,” said Morrison. “To be told that you’re not gonna come to work, so you’re not gonna get paid. Which are we?”

Most other state workers will get 10 furlough days, as part of the governor’s plan to offset a $1.4 billion budget deficit each year for the next four years. The schools superintendent also sent a video message to teachers saying, “It pains me to see our employees whose commitment and dedication remained unwavering throughout the thick of this pandemic, impacted in this manner,” said Christina Kishimoto.

A spokeswoman for the DOE says at this point, only the first two days of the furlough are in effect. The governor will have to approve the other four days. Still, Morrison dreads the long term effects of furloughs to the educational system as well as the economy.

“I’m very concerned about teachers and their well being,” said Morrison. “Like anyone else they’re trying to survive right now. Cutting pay when you already don’t make that much money it’s gonna be really tough.”

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