BOE approves proposal to incentivize critical teacher shortage areas

The state Board of Education on Thursday approved a proposal to provide extra compensation for classroom teachers in three high-need areas: special education, hard-to-staff geographical locations, and Hawaiian language immersion programs.

The board voted 7-2 in favor of implementing the pay differentials, which are scheduled to take effect Jan. 7, according to a press release from the Department of Education.

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“I’m humbled by the turnout today of students, teachers and community stakeholders who took the time to voice their support and concerns over the proposal. On behalf of the Board, we heard you and we took action based on what we believe to be in the best interest of our haumana, especially those in high-need areas,” said BOE Chairwoman Catherine Payne. “This momentous decision was about trying something new and looking for bold strategies that will address teacher staffing issues that not only plague Hawaii, but districts across the nation as well. We have an opportunity to be innovative and set the bar high.”

With the approval, the department will send a request to Gov. David Ige to include the necessary funding in his executive budget request to the upcoming Legislature. The governor earlier this week supported the proposal at a press conference alongside the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the department said.

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Implementation of this initiative is timed around recruitment deadlines for the 2020-21 school year along with ongoing retention efforts.

“I am thrilled with our collective decision to move forward boldly to address a long-standing challenge. We have tremendous teachers in the Department who deserve to receive competitive pay, acknowledgement and support. We are the promise to our haumana,” added Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto.

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