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State has tentative deal with teachers

March 25, 2013
By OSKAR GARCIA , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - After more than two years of contract talks, Hawaii's teacher's union has reached a tentative agreement with the state, both sides announced Sunday night.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said in a statement Sunday that under the four-year deal, teachers will receive annual pay raises of about 3 percent and will have a say in statewide decisions about educator evaluation.

The deal is still subject to a vote by the union's roughly 13,500 teachers. Okabe said he's hopeful they'll approve the contract.

Okabe said the raises will help the state's public schools attract the best and brightest teachers.

"This will do a lot to stabilize the teaching force, which we know will improve teaching and learning conditions," Okabe said.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie offered few details of the contract at a hastily called news conference, saying he preferred to allow the union to communicate the details with teachers in advance of a vote.

"I simply don't want to characterize the contract at this stage precisely because I want to be bargaining in good faith," Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie said he believed the state Legislature would be able to fully fund the contract.

"They'll have a solid basis to make decisions moving forward on spending and programs," he said.

The union had rejected the state's latest offer in December over concerns with pay and evaluations.

The teachers' last contract expired in June 2011.

The union rejected a contract offer in January last year, then voted on it again over the summer and approved it in a symbolic move designed to put pressure on state officials to accept it. But Abercrombie maintained that the sides needed to negotiate again.

The sides agreed to bring in a mediator this month to help.



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