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Hawaiian education committee passes bill directing COVID-19 relief money to teacher salaries

Hawaiian education committee passes bill directing COVID-19 relief money to teacher salaries
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The Hawaii House Education Committee has passed a bill that would direct COVID-19 relief money to help fund teacher salaries. 

The bill sends the federal money marked for tutoring and school security to teacher salaries as Hawaii is struggling to retain and pay teachers due to the pandemic, Hawaii News Now reported

“By using stimulus funding, schools will be able to restore positions planned for elimination and avoid more valued school employees leaving Hawaii under the threat of huge pay cuts and layoffs,” Corey Rosenlee, the president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said to the committee.

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Schools and teachers nationwide have been struggling during the pandemic, as it has been difficult to move to online instruction with no clear date for classrooms to reopen. 

The bill will now be considered by the Hawaii House Finance Committee. The Hawaii Senate Education Committee is considering a similar bill.

Although schools in Hawaii are struggling, the state's education department could see a budget next year that is $141 million lower than its base budget, according to Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii relies heavily on tourism, which has decreased significantly this past year due to lockdowns and travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The drops in tourism and tax revenues are deeply affecting the state. 

It is difficult to predict when tourism will increase again in Hawaii. Honolulu’s mayor recently extended coronavirus restrictions into the middle of March, allowing only five people from the same household to eat out and keeping gyms and other facilities at 25 percent capacity.