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No Strike Seen in Hawaii Schools

April 8, 2001

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HONOLULU (AP) _ After two days of strikes shut down public education in Hawaii, the Department of Education said it would reopen one school that had enough staff to teach its 20 seniors.

The two strikes by public school teachers and University of Hawaii faculty members closed schools across the islands Thursday and Friday. The state Department of Education said one school would hold classes Monday for 20 graduating seniors, who were given priority.

Teachers and professors are demanding pay raises that meet Hawaii’s cost of living, estimated at 30 percent higher than that of most mainland communities. Teachers are seeking raises totaling 22 percent over four years, retroactive to July 1999. Professors want raises of 13 percent over two years.

No talks were scheduled over the weekend.

``We intend to stay here as long as we need to to get the message to the governor and to the state that we’re committed to seeing this through,″ said Mary Pittman, a kindergarten teacher.

The requests come as the state emerges from a nine-year economic slump.

To pay for teacher pay raises, Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano said, ``I would again be forced to cut programs for the poor, disabled and elderly.″

The state can’t expand the pool of highly skilled workers without better-paid educators, said J.N. Musto, executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

``What message are we sending right now to the world? We have no public education in the state of Hawaii,″ he said.


On the Net:

State government sites on strike: http://www.hawaiistrike.com

State Department of Education: http://doe.k12.hi.us

Hawaii State Teachers Association: http://www.hsta.org

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