Civil Beat Shares Department of Education Salaries

Katherine Poythress/Civil Beat

Who's working in our public school system and how do we value their work?

Those are questions at the heart of Civil Beat's decision to ask the Hawaii Department of Education to share — as is required by state law — the names, positions and salaries of all its employees.

The education department is the state's largest single expense, accounting for 41 percent of the $5.5 billion general fund budget. It costs taxpayers approximately $2.1 billion annually to run 254 regular public schools and 13 special- and adult-education schools.1 About $1.2 billion of that pays the salaries of nearly 22,000 workers. Another $450 million covers their fringe benefits.2 Benefits, typically more generous than benefits in the private sector, can account for a significant portion of public employees' salaries and are not included in this report.

How much is spent on public education — and whether it's spent wisely — is an issue in the governor's race, with Democrat Neil Abercrombie critical of the administration of his opponent, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona and Gov. Linda Lingle for furloughing teachers and shuttering schools on 17 instructional days last year.

When evaluating the tough budget decisions government leaders have to make, the more citizens know the better. At Civil Beat, providing data on how government works and how it spends taxpayer funds is central to our commitment to truth and transparency.

The education department's Office of Human Resources provided Civil Beat with a list of all 21,929 department employees that included their names, professional titles and salary codes. It also gave us documents or pointed us to documents which we used to match an individual salary code to a salary range.

Using the data the Department of Education made available, we determined the department's highest-paid employees and lowest-earning positions. The highest-paid employees in the department earn 9 times more than the lowest-paid. Our analysis also showed that women still dominate the education system.

Our work makes it possible for full members of Civil Beat to be able to see the name of each employee matched with their salary range.

To see a sample of the searchable database available to full members, please go here. We have published similar databases for state employees, University of Hawaii employees, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. and the Legislature. We will be publishing the same information regarding the judiciary, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the City and County of Honolulu.

Here is the data as we received it from the Department of Education.

The salary ranges that are being shown have not been adjusted for reductions due to furloughs. Depending on bargaining unit, department employees are being furloughed between nine and 21 days this year. Click here to view the furlough calendars for all employees.

  1. An earlier version of this article stated the state pays $2.2 billion to run the school system. That figure included the $60 million spent on charter schools, which are not included in this analysis because their employees are subject to separate union contracts.  

  2. The $450 million that pays for employee fringe benefits is located in the Department of Budget and Finance budget — not in the Department of Education budget. This, combined with the amount spent on salaries, amounts to about 78 percent of the system's total budget.  

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