Updated: November 29, 2023
Following urgent calls on the state to resolve pay equity for school employees, the Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association has reached a tentative agreement that addresses pay parity for those who help educate and care for Hawaiʻi’s students.
The issue of pay inequality for school-level personnel intensified with recent pay increases for teachers. According to a news release, the association demanded that the governor and superintendent turn their attention to the rest of the team that educates the stateʻs children.
“This tentative agreement, pending ratification of our membership, signals to public workers across the state that this administration, unlike its predecessors, desires increased collaboration with public sector unions to make state government work better for the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Randy Perreira, Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association executive director.
Educational assistants and teaching assistants in public schools play a critical role in student learning, working side-by-side with classroom teachers, especially with the most vulnerable students. Historically, fewer jobs in the Department of Education paid lower than educational assistants, despite the vital nature of their roles.
“While education officials have acknowledged outrageously low pay and a lack of career ladder for educational assistants since at least 2008, officials consistently failed to address the problem, creating a recruitment and retention crisis that has only deepened over the years,” Perreira said.
For vice principals, state officials acknowledged that pay bumps for teachers created a situation where some teachers were making more than their supervisors.
“Today’s deal represents years of promises that are finally coming to fruition for these dedicated educators. Our work is not yet done, however. The rest of the administrative and support staff in our schools deserve pay parity with their education counterparts, as well, and the Green Administration has signaled a willingness to work with us on this,” Perreira said.
The department is facing historic staff shortages in critical positions, with nearly 600 educational assistant vacancies and some 160 vice principal positions unfilled, according to the release.