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Editor’s Note: Our popular public employees salaries database is back. This year, we’ve combined all agencies in a single database; but we are still breaking out stories on state and city departments individually. Today: the Department of Education.
The number of employees at the Hawaii Department of Education who earn $100,000 or more a year has risen sharply in the last few years, from at least 43 workers in 2012 to at least 266 in 2016, according to payroll data requested by Civil Beat.
The salary increases from 2012 and 2016 followed several years of pay cuts and furloughs during the recession.
The district’s highest earner is Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, who takes home $200,000 a year. The Board of Education gave Matayoshi a $50,000 pay raise in 2014 after successfully lobbying lawmakers to increase a salary cap on the position put in place in 2001.
Other top earners at the DOE are state and complex-level administrators, followed by experienced principals. At the bottom of the pay scale are entry level office assistants, who earn a minimum of $22,824 a year.
Civil Beat requests salary data from all public agencies annually. Agencies are not required to provide precise payroll data for most employees, and many provide minimum and maximum salary ranges.
The broad nature of the salary ranges means the number of DOE employees actually earning six-figure salaries could be anywhere from 266 to 1,064.
The massive database can be searched by department, name, job title or salary range. (Department of Education salaries are also searchable by district or location.)
The DOE employs more people than any other government agency in the state of Hawaii. About 53 percent of DOE employees are teachers, the rest range from high-level administrators to low-wage custodians and office workers.
Salaries for many of the positions, including teachers, are set through negotiations between unions and the state. The Board of Education is responsible for approving raises for the top administrators, including the superintendent.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association has long argued that low teacher salaries contribute to a slew of problems in schools, including high teacher turnover rates.
Teacher salaries in Hawaii range from $44,538 into the low-$80,000s for highly educated teachers with decades of experience, placing Hawaii in the middle of national rankings for average teacher pay. But when the cost of living is factored in, teachers’ salaries in paradise drop to dead last.
Although the salaries of all employee groups have risen in the last four years, workers with the biggest increases are those who have moved from teaching positions into administrative roles.
Switching from a teaching position into the role of a 12-month principal moved several people from a maximum salary range of roughly $68,000 in 2012 to more than $140,000 in 2016.
Dawn Kaui Sang, who now heads the Office of Hawaiian Education, made one of the biggest salary leaps, with a 209 percent increase in her minimum salary range. In 2012 she was a state office teacher earning from $32,222 and $60,556. Her new position pays from $99,672 and $141,097.
Sang’s salary may have seen a big boost, but she’s responsible for overseeing the future direction of Hawaiian education in the state — a major undertaking. And her salary range is still lower than that of 240 principals and vice principals in the DOE.