DOE kicks off teacher hiring blitz, but there's little hope new recruits will stay long

DOE kicks off teacher hiring blitz, but there's little hope new recruits will stay long
Updated: Feb. 16, 2017 at 6:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Department of Education will soon go on a nationwide tour looking for new teachers, but it's not easy to get them to stay.

There are 1,300 to 1,500 vacancies to fill out of the DOE's 13,200 teachers and the state is competing with other school districts because of a nationwide teacher shortage.

With colorful advertisements, the DOE is trying to attract more teachers, especially in special education, secondary English, Secondary Math, Secondary Science, deaf education and rural schools so it's going on a spring recruitment in 6 cities; Chicago, New York, Dallas, Portland, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

" Anybody who comes here to teach in Hawaii will have a community not only with the school but in the surrounding areas and I think that sets us apart," said Barbara Krieg, assistant superintendent for the Office of Human Resources at the Department of Education.

But teachers say new mainland recruits don't stay here because they're not paid enough and it's too expensive to live in Hawaii.

"I do work with some amazing mainland teachers, but after a while they get tired. They know they are not going to be able to buy a house. It's very expensive to go back and forth to the mainland and they start to burn out," said Tracy Monroe, a veteran teacher at Dole Middle School in Kalihi.

Krieg added, "That situation is not unique to teachers because we all recognize that Hawaii has a high cost of living."

The salary range for a new teacher is $46,600 to $63,700 and the DOE says the turnover rate is nearly 10 percent over a year.

Shana Brown says she Chicago to work at Waimea Canyon Middle School on Kauai three years ago as a special education teacher and she wants to stay.

In the Windy City, she earned $56,000 a year; she makes $6,000 less here.

"I'm trying to make it work as much as possible. I have met a lot of great friends and I really enjoy my students," said Brown.

The DOE says it's in discussions with community partners to help teachers with housing and it has a three-year teacher mentoring program.

It's especially on the lookout for teachers with experience and Hawaii ties.

Another complaint from teachers is that it can take one to two months to get their first paycheck. And contrary to popular belief, the DOE says teacher recruits do not get a moving stipend.

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