HONOLULU (AP) - Hundreds of Hawaii teachers, following the direction of their labor union, are swamping lawmakers with phone calls and emails opposing a law that requires more class time.
Teachers want to delay the law, which increases instructional time beginning with the next school year, complaining that they should be paid more if they have to work more.
They sent more than 1,200 emails to Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Jill Tokuda on Wednesday at the urging of their labor union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
A state law passed last year required more daily class time and a standard 180-day school year to begin in fall 2011, but the union and Department of Education complained it would cost up to $55 million that the state doesn't have.
"The implication is that (the extra instructional time) comes without compensation," the union email said. "According to the senator, there is no extra money."
Tokuda had previously proposed delaying the law from taking effect until 2014, but parents' concerns caused her to study this week whether schools could fulfill part of the law's mandate despite the state's budget difficulties.
"What we're asking for on this bill is, let's work together because there's got to be a way that we can do more than simply push back the effective date," said Tokuda, D-Kaneohe-Kailua.
The additional school time was passed as a reform following teacher furloughs that closed schools for 17 days last year, making Hawaii's school year the shortest in the country. The statute required 5 hours, 30 minutes of daily class time in secondary schools and 5 hours, 5 minutes in elementary schools.
School calendars for next year show a full 180-day school year scheduled.
Lawmakers in a conference committee are evaluating legislation calling for the delay.