HONOLULU (KHON2) — State lawmakers have approved a bill on Thursday, April 29, that would give Hawaii public school educators one-time $2,200 payments.

The payments aim for “workforce stabilization to retain teachers” and will be made to full- and half-time teachers.

“What we are simply saying is we appreciate all the hard work that you have done, teachers,” said Rep. Justin Woodson, the state education chair. “This is just a small token of appreciation for you to continue hopefully your work.”

In HB613, CD2, lawmakers direct the Hawaii State Department of Education to spend federal pandemic relief funds on specific programs and policies.

According to the bill, the sum of $29.7 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds may be expended for the fiscal year that starts July 1 “for the purpose of educator workforce stabilization to retain teachers; provided that moneys appropriated shall be used for a one-time stabilization payment of $2,200 for each teacher.”

The Hawaii State Teachers Association says the one time payment bonus is a step in the right direction.

“We still have a teacher shortage crisis in Hawaii, but this is going to help retain it,” said Corey Rosenlee, president of the HSTA.

The measure also calls for funds to be spent on the following: shortage differentials for special education, Hawaiian language immersion educators, improved indoor air quality and new air conditioning, along with food services, transportation and personal protective equipment.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association will provide further information about how and when the payments will be carried out once Gov. David Ige approves the funds.

Lawmakers say there’s still work to be done, but they’re grateful to see some progress.

“We have a systems problem and our system is not set up to properly support our teachers. Therefore, our teachers cannot fully and properly support our students. So as we move forward, we need to continue to look at ways in which we can make adjustments,” said Rep. Woodson.