Proposal for Teacher Pay Increases to Go Before BOE

December 3, 2019, 3:15 PM HST (Updated December 3, 2019, 3:15 PM)
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Hawai‘i State Department of Education announced its proposal today on its efforts to tackle teacher shortages through increased pay.

During a press conference at Central Middle School on O‘ahu, Gov. David Ige spoke about his support to provide extra compensation for teachers in special education, hard-to-staff geographical locations and Hawaiian Language Immersion programs.

Click here to read the full proposal.

“For all the time I’ve been involved in public service, a shortage of teachers has existed,” Ige said. “I do believe our students deserve better; they deserve a qualified teacher in every single classroom.”

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The department is seeking approval from the Board of Education to provide an annual shortage differential of $10,000 per each qualified and licensed special education classroom teacher; and an annual differential of $8,000 per each qualified and licensed Hawaiian language immersion classroom teacher.

The Department is also seeking approval from the BOE to create a 4-tiered system, based on vacancy rates in rural areas, that provide annual shortage differentials ranging from $3,000-$8,000.

Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto speaks about phase I of DOE’s plan to compensate Hawai’i’s educators. PC: Facebook Live screen grab

Three hard-to-staff locations identified on the Big Island are the Kea‘au Complex, Ka‘ū Complex and Pāhoa Complex.

“This is the first step in a comprehensive program that we are looking at to end the teacher shortage and we are starting with those positions that have been the toughest to staff all across the state,” Ige said.

The proposal goes to the Board of Education for approval on Thursday. If approved, Ige said he’s worked the funding for these differentials into the State’s executive supplemental budget, which will be submitted in mid-December to the legislature.

If funding becomes available, those affected teachers would receive their differentials in January 2020 in an effort to keep those educators from transferring out of the rural areas.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto said the teacher shortage has created an equity issue for the students with the highest needs.

“We have a shortage right now in our State and we must take bold action to help us realize Hawaii exceptional public education system,” Kishimoto said. “Inaction is not an option and that’s why we’re here today.”

This differential proposal is one of three phases the DOE hopes to enhance teacher recruitment and retention for the State. Kishimoto said she intends to present the second phase to the legislature in January.

“While today’s announcement is undoubtedly positive news, know that we are not taking our foot off the gas,” she said. “It is our collective responsibility to keep moving forward to solve this.”

Kishimoto added the department has made a promise to provide equitable education to every child in Hawai‘i.

“I’m committed to enhancing a profession that engages the most important and noteworthy work,” she said.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.
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