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Tuesday, September 9, 2003



Lawmaker gets money
for schools in Hawaii


Hawaii's public schools will receive an extra $3.5 million this year from the federal government to help cover the cost of educating students whose parents are in the military, with the promise of more money to come.

State Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Newtown-Pearl City) secured the money through an obscure provision of federal law that boosts funding to school districts when military dependents are moved off base during housing renovations. Roughly 2,000 students were displaced during the last school year.

More than 10,000 military housing units in the state are due for renovation over the next couple of years, which could result in another $20 million in impact aid coming to Hawaii's schools, officials said.

Hawaii received roughly $48 million in impact aid last year, according to Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen. Takai worked with the Military Impacted Schools Association to identify displaced students so the department could apply for the extra money.

"The effort of Rep. Takai should be commended," said John Deegan, executive director of the association. "Without his initiative, schools in Hawaii would have lost out."

Impact aid is a federal program that helps pay the educational costs of federally connected students, in lieu of taxes. The money goes to the school district to help cover operating expenses such as textbooks, computers and salaries.

School districts report the number of eligible students every year. This week, federal survey cards are being sent home with all Hawaii public school students to determine how many qualify for impact-aid reimbursement.

"We encourage all parents to promptly fill out and return the survey cards to help our public schools benefit from every federal dollar that we are entitled to receive," said Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto.

"Especially during these times of state budget difficulties, federal impact aid is an increasingly important part of our education budget."

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