HONOLULU - Mid-summer preps for the upcoming school year have a new element these days. Along with stocking up on supplies and cleaning classrooms, schools need to worry about filling vacancies. The teachers union say there is a lot of vacancies.

The latest teacher employment report shows nearly half of the teachers who resign, do so because they're leaving the state. 

Nathan Murata, dean of the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, says about 200 to 300 students graduate from the college each year and most of them to get jobs but some have to travel a bit.

"The reality is in Hawaii, we are not funding our education system," Corey Rosenlee, Hawaii State Teacher Association president said. 

The HSTA says the number of teachers choosing to leave Hawaii has increased by 84 percent since 2010.

"This is now teachers from Hawaii leaving to to the mainland because they just cannot afford to stay in Hawaii anymore," Rosenlee said. 

The Department of Education acknowledges the shortages but says there has not been a sudden or alarming spike in departures.

"The numbers are actually pretty consistent but we still have a teacher shortage when we start the school year every year," Cindy Covell, assistant superintendent of the office of Talent Management said.

Kellee Kelly taught in Hawaii schools for nine years. She moved to Dallas, Texas this month. 

"There's a lot of responsibility and pressure put on teachers for very low pay for what we do. It's very rewarding but in the end, if I can't put food on the table or I can't provide a roof over my childrens' head then that's where I have to say I can't do it anymore," Kelly said. 

DOE says it formed a committee to work on a five-year plan to improve both teacher recruitment and retention.The objectives are: 

- Build capacity locally

- Increase satisfaction of in-service teachers

- Provide meaningful incentives for recruitment and retention

- Effectively market the teaching profession

- Meet local needs with other approaches

- Special education teaching experience 

"Incentives we're looking at is teacher housing. It is so expensive to live in Hawaii, what can we do with some of the existing housing that we have and what other incentives might be available," Covell said. 

Any changes will come with a price tag. The HSTA says its hoping that come the November voters will vote in the schools favor. 

"There will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that asks them whether they're willing to put a surcharge on investment properties and we're looking at second homes over a million dollars in order to fund our schools," Rosenlee said. 

DOE just announced it was awarded a federal grant to recruit transitioning and retired military members for teaching positions. 
 

Presentation courtesy: HSTA