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Green hopes housing will alleviate teacher shortage

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(The Center Square) – Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said he hopes providing teachers with housing will alleviate a shortage of about 1,200 teachers annually.

Senate Bill 941 allows the School Facilities Authority to join with public and private agencies in developing off or on-campus housing for teachers and other staff.

“We need 1,200 teachers to fill our annual teacher shortage,” Green said. “Construction of teacher housing is seen as a key step in the future of education of Hawaii’s keiki.”

Hawaii’s cost of living is a constant concern for state officials. The average cost of a Hawaiian home in Oahu is $1.15 million, meaning families would need to earn $200,000 a year to afford a house, according to information from the Honolulu Board of Realtors included in testimony for Senate Bill 865, which was signed by Green last month. That bill creates a program to build low-income housing on state-owned land. The houses will have 99-year leases issued by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

The state is addressing the teacher shortage in other ways. The Hawaii State Teachers Association agreed to a 3.4% annual raise in April after backing off a more significant request when the Council of Revenues showed Hawaii’s revenue projections were down by $328 million.

Green signed Senate Bill 941 on Monday, along with another bill that allocates $200 million to expand pre-K access.

“All the momentum building to prioritize statewide preschool expansion, builds on decades of hard work from the early learning and childcare community in Hawaii,” said Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke. “It will take continuous collaboration to achieve universal access to preschool, so thank you to the Ready Keiki partners, the legislature, and Gov. Green for supporting this effort.”

A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found Hawaii children’s economic well-being ranks 44th in the nation. The state ranked 19th for education.

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