Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs. Monday April 24, 2017

Teachers rallied at the Capitol for better education., and will vote on their union contract Thursday.
 Photo from HSTA
THE BARGAINING UNION FOR HAWAI`I PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS, after nine months of negotiations, has reached a tentative agreement with the state of Hawai`i for a 13.6 percent pay increase in a four-year contract from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2021. The pay hike is aimed at keeping teachers in the Hawaiian Islands where the cost of living is one of the highest in the country, but the teacher pay is lower than in other expensive places to live.
     The teachers' union, the Hawai`i State Teachers Association, made the announcement today following the Negotiations Committee meeting on Saturday and the HSTA Board of Directors' unanimous acceptance of the proposal.
     A contract ratification vote is set for this Thursday, April 27. Teachers from Ka`u High and Pahala Elementary, Ka`u Learning Academy, Na`alehu Elementary and Intermediate and Volcano School of the Arts & Sciences will vote at the Ka`u High Band Room from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Ka`u teachers held signs on the March 7 Day of Action, along
with teachers outside schools around the state.
Photo by David Berry
   Informational meetings to brief teachers on the settlement and answer questions began around the state today. The Ka`u meeting is set for Wednesday at the Ka`u High Band Room from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
     In a statement, the HSTA describes the tentative agreement as "a win for teachers." Over a four-year period, it would provide for "pay raises through across-the-board salary increases, step movements and bonuses for teachers at Step 14B. The increases will be equivalent to a compounded 13.6 percent raise over that four-year period." In addition, the state has agreed to provide more money toward teachers’ health premiums.
     The agreement also includes language about one of the major negotiations sticking points — teacher evaluations. For the next two years, the great majority of tenured members will go through the streamlined evaluation process while the Joint Committee works to change and improve evaluation, HSTA reported.
     Other highlights, according to HSTA, include improvements to the assignment and transfers process, the establishment of a committee to address our English language learners and the continuation of the 21 professional development hours with pay and credits. The agreement allows HSTA to renegotiate health plan contributions and 21 hours in years three and four.
Ka`u teachers joined Hilo teachers earlier this year to strategize their
new contract with the State of Hawai`i.
Photo from HSTA
   The Negotiations Team is comprised of HSTA President Corey Rosenlee, Paul Daugherty and Shannon Kaa`a, under the leadership of Chair Osa Tui and Vice Chair Diane Mokuau.
     The HSTA statement said, "The team rolled with the punches and continued to come up with innovative ways to get the best deal possible for teachers within the confines of the state’s difficult fiscal situation. Our Chief Negotiator Andrea Eshelman has kept us on track and provided positive, excellent leadership, even when things looked grim."
     HSTA also thanked Gov. David Ige "for personally getting deeply involved in our negotiations. We send a heart-felt mahalo to the governor and his chief of staff, Mike McCartney, who spent hours and hours at HSTA during bargaining sessions over the last three days, sometimes coming back twice in the same day and staying past midnight.
     "But most important, we’d like to thank every teacher who took the time to speak up and speak out at rallies, on petitions, in testimony, emails, letters and phone calls over the last few months. Your collective voice was heard loud and clear.:" HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said, “Thank you for standing up for public education and the schools our keiki deserve. The collective action taken by teachers this school year played a major role in helping us to reach this tentative agreement that serves the best interests of teachers and students.”

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SUPPORTING HAWAI`I'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS THROUGH A NEW VISITOR TAX on accommodations failed at the 2017 Hawai`i Legislature last week when House and Senate negotiators could not reach agreement. HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said that nearly 4,000
HSTA President Corey Rosenlee (center)  joined
numerous citizens groups supporting public school
initiatives at the legislature. He supported a new visitor
tax to help pay for better schools.
Photo from HSTA
testimonials, a thousand emails and a successful lobby day contributed to a nearly successful effort to place a Hawai`i Constitutional Amendment on the ballot next election.
     Some legislators said that the ongoing taxation for the rail project on O`ahu makes it difficult to add another tax. Others said it could be challenged in court.
     The HSTA president said, "A few lawmakers decided not to give the public a chance to vote on whether they want to fund the schools our keiki deserve, even though our polling shows that two-thirds of the voters would have supported this Constitutional Amendment.
     “The last two years have shown that legislators will not vote to increase funding for our schools, nor will they allow the public to vote. Our legislators must make education a priority. If they did not support the Constitutional Amendment, what are their solutions to our chronically underfunded public school system?” Rosenlee said, “Our keiki can’t wait any longer.”

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A BRIGHT SMILES AWARD has gone to Ka`u Rural Health Community Association and its founder Jessie Marques. A project of the Hawai`i Public Health Association, it is supported by the DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2020 Initiative. 
   The award to Ka`u is one of four Bright Smiles Hawai`i Community Innovation Awards in oral health outreach, education, and information-gathering provided to Hawai`i communities at-risk for poor oral health. 
Ka`u Rural Health Community
Association won a Bright Smiles
award to help improve oral health.
Photo from KRHCA
  The purpose is to encourage and incentivize more direct interest from at-risk communities, increase community engagement, motivate change, as well as identify disparities and effectively address them in meaningful ways, with tangible results. The awards range from $2,300 to $5,000 per project. They focus on ethnic, geographic, and population-specific partners to share their knowledge regarding innovative and successful approaches to engage their own respective communities. BSH supports community efforts to identify root causes of their oral health disparities and help lead efforts to develop innovative and community-supportive responses to address the social determinants of oral health.
    Bright Smiles Ka’u, sponsored by the Ka’u Rural Health Community Association and its executive director Jessie Marques, will provide community outreach on oral health via a series of community fairs and also survey Ka’u residents about oral health disparities.
     Ka`u Rural Health Community Association also operates a telemedicine kiosk at its location near Pahala Library.
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Kīlauea’s Summit Eruption: Nine Years and Counting, Tue, April 25, 7 p.m., Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Matt Patrick presents an update and overview, including stunning imagery. Free; park entrance fees apply. 

Ka‘ū Food Pantry, Tue, April 25, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Ocean View.

THE KA`U COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN goes to a public Steering Committee meeting this coming Tuesday, April 25, at Na`alehu Community Center, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
     The Windward Planning commission will hold a Ka`u CDP public hearing on Wednesday, May 10 at 5:30 p.m. at Na`alehu Community Center and Thursday, June 1 at 9 a.m. at the County of Hawai`i Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo. Following the Windward Planning Commission making recommendations, the County Council will hold Ka`u CDP public hearings and take action. With approval, Mayor Harry Kim will sign the Ka`u CDP into law and an Action Committee will be appointed to guide the Ka`u CDP implementation. The Draft Ka`u CDP and the Planning Director's "non-substantive revisions" are available at the site: www.kaucdep.info.

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