HONOLULU (KHON2) — Among the states and the District of Columbia, Hawaii ranked 51 for lowest annual salaries for teachers and that’s after the cost of living has been adjusted. The placement came from a study by WalletHub. The finance website also listed Hawaii at a low 49 for best state for teachers in 2019.

“We’re at the point where people don’t want to be a teacher because of how much we’re paid,” said first-grade teacher Logan Okita.

Okita tells us with her salary she can’t afford to buy a house.

“There have been times where I’ve considered changing jobs. I’ve tried every way possible to make sure, that because teaching fills me with joy, I’m able to continue teaching,” said Okita.

The Department of Education says its FY 2020 budget is $2.1 billion. The Hawaii State Teachers Association tells us the majority of the budget goes to salaries and that the average annual salary for a teacher is $65-thousand.

“In comparable districts, they can be paying an average teacher $15- to $20-thousand more than what they are paying a Hawaii teacher and that’s why we have seen this exodus of teachers leaving Hawaii,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee.

To figure out how to attract and retain educators, the state held its first listening session Monday night. A consultant was hired to gather feedback from the community and a compensation study will be completed by the end of November.

“I think it’s going to need something from the leaders of Hawaii to step up and say that this is an emergency that every child is valued,” said Rosenlee.

For dates and times for the next listening session, click here.