WAILUKU - After hearing that public school teachers had accepted 17 furlough days per school year, recreational and nonprofit organizations along with parents were busy Wednesday seeking out child care options for when schools shut down on certain Fridays.
"I feel sick, I don't know what I'm going to do," said Waihee Elementary School parent Kirstin Hamman.
Hamman, who has a 7-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, said staying home from work had crossed her mind, but she felt she couldn't afford being away from her job as a legislative attorney with the county's Office of Council Services.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Maui Family YMCA counselor Kris Flores helps Pomaikai Elementary School 1st-graders Lauren Mitra, 6, (right) and Jacelin Nakamura, 6, with their spelling homework Wednesday afternoon in the school’s cafeteria. Flores, 16, is a senior at Maui High School. The YMCA will use its staff members who work in A-Plus after-school programs to work at day-care programs offered for children when their teachers take 17 furlough days this school year and next. A-Plus programs will not be offered on furlough days.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
YMCA counselor Jeremy Collado shares a laugh with Pomaikai Elementary School students while supervising play on the basketball courts Wednesday afternoon. Collado, 18, is a freshman at Maui Community College.
Although she now has to find care for her children, Hamman was more concerned about her children losing classroom time because of the furlough days.
Officials with recreational and nonprofit organizations said they have been receiving calls for several days from parents wanting to know what would be offered for child care on furlough days. Organizations were working to quickly to put together programs on Wednesday.
Jason Justus, senior program director at the Maui Family YMCA, said staff from the YMCA already operate ongoing physical education programs as well as the state's A-Plus program at some schools.
The days public schools will shut down because teachers will be taking mandatory unpaid days off are:
Oct. 23 and 30
Nov. 6 and 20
Dec. 4, 11 and 18
Jan. 15 and 29
Feb. 5 and 12
March 5 and 12
April 23 and 30
May 7 and 14
On furlough days, the YMCA will be holding day-camp programs for children ages 5 to 14, as well as a junior leadership program for students 15 and older, Justus said. The older teens will assist leaders in running the day-camp programs.
On Wednesday morning, Justus said he was finalizing registration forms for the furlough day programs.
On Tuesday, Hawaii State Teachers Association members ratified a two-year contract that includes the furlough days that would close schools on certain Fridays. Those are scheduled for Oct. 23 and 30; Nov. 6 and 20; Dec. 4, 11 and 18; Jan. 15 and 29; Feb. 5 and 12; March 5 and 12; April 23 and 30 and May 7 and 14.
Under the new contract, teachers on 10-month schedules will take 17 unpaid days off each year. Other union members, such as registrars on year-round schedules, would be furloughed 21 days a year. That equals a 7.9 percent annual pay cut for each category.
Members of other unions also work in public schools. For example, principals and vice principals are members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, and cafeteria workers and custodians are members of the United Public Workers Union.
Department of Education spokeswoman Sandy Goya said that those employees' work schedules would be dictated by their unions' labor agreements with the state, and under current circumstances they would need to report to work on furlough days. Both the HGEA and UPW are in binding arbitration with the state.
"We'll see where negotiations go with the HGEA and UPW," Goya said.
Gov. Linda Lingle has said that budget cuts, including furloughs and layoffs, are necessary for the state to close an estimated $884 million revenue shortfall through June 2011.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Lingle said: "The furlough days will present challenges, but like other situations, our residents will come together to kokua and ultimately come up with real, common-sense solutions. Moreover, I know the private sector will jump in to help, especially in the area of day care."
Officials at the Kihei Youth Center said they would help.
Even though it will put a little strain on the center's budget, Executive Director Lehua Huddleston-Hafoka said it would be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the furlough days.
She said center staff decided Tuesday it was their "kuleana" (responsibility) to help the community no matter what.
Huddleston-Hafoka said she would seek additional funding to help make up for the cost of having the center open longer hours on furlough days.
She also would like to get teachers at the center to assist with students, who will be missing classroom instruction. She said she also hopes to have lunch and snacks at the center, but still has to find ways to make that happen.
The furlough days at the center will include structured programs such as homework assistance, sports, and arts and crafts. The center is for students ages 8 to 18. Those that participate must become members of the center, and there are scholarships to assist families with the yearly fees, Huddleston-Hafoka said.
Membership costs $10 per child for the first year, $5 per child for the second year, she said.
The Kama'aina Kids program also will be offering child care for elementary school students, said Ray Sanborn, its co-founder and president.
While details were being worked out, the program aims to have a site in Central Maui and possibly programs in South and West Maui, he said.
Sanborn said program officials are working with the state Department of Education as well as school principals to check on the availability of the use of schools.
Kama'aina Kids already operates after-school programs at 11 Maui schools, but Sanborn said the furlough programs may not be offered at all or on the same campuses.
The program also would plan to hire teachers to provide instruction to students, he said.
Although prices have not been set yet, he estimates it could cost around $20 to $25 daily for each student.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui officials said Wednesday they still need to discuss how they will respond to the needs of the families and children.
They need to analyze their budget and resources as well as how they can best serve students, especially since students will be missing out on their academic days, officials said.
Karen Deguilmo of the county's PALS program, which offers programs for students during winter and summer breaks, said the county program does not have staff to provide programs on the furlough days, although she has fielded many calls wondering if PALS would provide services.
Justus said the YMCA will hold furlough day programs at its Kanaloa Avenue facility in Kahului, and it is looking into holding programs at a school in Kihei as well as at an Upcountry location.
Mike Morris, chief executive officer of Maui Family YMCA, said the YMCA does have the staff to run the furlough day programs because they can tap employees who would normally be handling some A-Plus after-school programs. Those will be closed during the furlough days, he said.
Justus said care will be provided from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It will cost approximately $20 for YMCA members and $40 for nonmembers per day. Financial assistance is available. The teen program will cost $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers.
Programs will include a homework corner, arts and crafts and swimming at the Kanaloa site, Justus said.
A tutoring service called Windows of Opportunity will offer a program for kindergarten through 12th-grade students from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on furlough Fridays, said David Barber, director of operations. The cost would be $67.50 per day.
For locations or other information, call 344-8468 or visit its Web site at WooHawaii. com.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.