HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to the Department of Education, it’s making strides to get more teachers in the classrooms.

The DOE said it has hired nearly 2,000 teachers this school year. As of Jan. 11 there are nearly 4,000 substitute teachers available. However, some teachers said those numbers hold no value when it’s a different story on campus.

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“All the time I have students showing up the door of my classroom asking if they can hang out in my room and work instead,” said Lisa Morrison of HSTA and a Maui High School teacher. “Because there’s so much of a shortage that they’d rather come to my room then be shuttled into the cafeteria.”

Due to staffing shortages, some classes have been left without a teacher and a substitute, so schools resorted to putting students in the cafeteria to monitor them.

According to the DOE, the Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui complex saw the most substitute teacher requests unfilled at 350 for the first week of the year.

“I’ve spoken with my students about the things that they feel that they need,” said Morrison. “The kids want more help. They want more adults available to help them in the specific areas of need.”

The DOE is working on ways to improve recruitment that include hiring four “aloha ambassadors” to answer questions about living and working in Hawaii. Also, sending emails targeting new hires, which have resulted in 133 new applications since December and rebranding the teacher recruitment website. The DOE is also discussing providing housing for teachers.

“The $40 million that’s from the Governor’s budget, my initial understanding is that it’s focused on West Oahu,” said Randall Tanaka of the Department of Education. “My discussion with Mr. Sniffin, we mutually agreed that we would take a broader look and not just West Oahu, but the areas of most immediate need.”

However, the teacher’s union suggests increasing pay as well.

“You need to offer more money. There needs to be a competitive salary,” Morrison said.

That’s something Rep. Jeanne Kapela is working on with bills in the works that would increase pay for experienced teachers and those working extra hours for professional development.

“The reality is that we need to make sure that we are paying our teachers better,” said Rep. Jeanne Kapela. “So they’re staying here in Hawaii and they’re staying in our schools and feeling supported.”

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The DOE will cover staffing shortages and COVID concerns before the Board of Education on Thursday.