Package will speed public school repairs


POSTED: Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hawaii's deteriorating public schools are in for a much-needed face lift as the state begins to pump dollars into construction projects to stimulate the economy.






        The Hawaii Education Department expects to renovate classrooms at these schools with $70 million released by Gov. Linda Lingle:


Ben Parker Elementary
Kaneohe Elementary
Kauluwela Elementary
Likelike Elementary
Nuuanu Elementary
Royal Elementary
Campbell High
Kaimiloa Elementary
Olomana School
Pope Elementary
Honokaa Elementary
Kohala Middle
Laupahoehoe Elementary/ Intermediate
Kaunakakai Elementary
Kualapuu Elementary
Momilani Elementary
Waiau Elementary
Eleele Elementary
Shafter Elementary
Moanalua High
Moanalua Middle
Salt Lake Elementary
Hahaione Elementary
Kaiser High
Kamiloiki Elementary
Kahuku Elementary
Sunset Beach Elementary
Haaheo Elementary
Hilo Union Elementary
Maui High
Mililani Uka Elementary
Mililani Waena Elementary
Kaala Elementary
Leilehua High



The Hawaii Department of Education is set to receive more than $317 million from a $1.8 billion infrastructure spending package announced yesterday by Gov. Linda Lingle and endorsed by mayors, legislators and labor union representatives.

Only the state Department of Transportation is slated to get more funds than schools under an initiative expected to launch 1,521 projects statewide over the next 18 months.

The boost in funds to fix and renovate isle schools will come as the estimated cost to get campuses back in shape grew to $421 million in September from $341 million two years ago.

The repair backlog, which had been dropping since 2001, rose when declining state revenues prompted Lingle's administration to withhold $170 million from $310 million that lawmakers had appropriated for school improvements in fiscal 2007 and 2008, said Duane Kashiwai, public works administrator for the Education Department.

While all but about $20 million of those funds has since been restored, he said project delays and inflation drove up the schools' repair backlog cost.

Kashiwai said the backlog should begin to shrink again under the state's plan to speed up the release of funds for schools.

“;That allows us to get going,”; he said. “;We are hopeful that that will turn the corner.”;

Lingle said yesterday her office has been sparingly releasing money for schools to avoid burdening local construction companies, which could result in pricier contracts or even require flying in workers from the mainland. But now, with labor unions reporting steep declines in projects, competition is likely to be greater, leading to lower bids and savings for the state, she said.

“;Many of them are the smaller jobs that don't need building permits, (such as) classroom renovations,”; she said. “;So those will really get moving quickly.”;

Projects range from $1,000 for termite treatment at Kau High and Pahala Elementary on the Big Island to $360,000 to replace a fire alarm system and other work at Kalaheo Elementary on Kauai to more than $61 million for a new school, Ewa Makai Middle on Oahu.

The Education Department received last week the final $70 million of $100 million the Legislature approved for fiscal 2009 to refurbish classes. It has gotten $15 million from $66 million earmarked for campus upgrades, and officials expect to request the rest of those funds next month, Kashiwai said.

For next fiscal year, education officials plan to ask for $30 million to renovate classrooms and $100 million for general repair and maintenance. They will also seek $212 million for construction projects in the upcoming legislative session.






        A breakdown of the repair and maintenance needs at Hawaii public schools:


DistrictSchoolsBacklogAverage backlog
per school

Big Island43$77,715,000$1,807,326



Source: State Department of Education





        After sharp reductions since 2001, the backlog of projects to repair and maintain isle public schools has been rising in recent years.


DateBacklog cost
Jan. 2001$720 million
Aug. 2001$623 million
May. 2002$701 million
Dec. 2003$703 million
April 2004$666 million
Sept. 2004$468 million
Sept. 2005$525 million
Sept. 2006$341 million
Sept. 2007$370 million
May 2008$412 million
Sept. 2008$421 million



Source: State Department of Education