It’s one of the fastest growing places on Oahu, but the Ewa area did not get all the money requested to help overcrowded schools.
It’s an issue KHON2 has been following. Last year, a teacher at Campbell High School, the largest school in the state, told us he had 52 students in one class.
Lawmakers approved $12 million for a new building, less than half of the requested $31 million.
“That $12 million will allow us to do the design work, the planning work, and the infrastructure work, expecting and anticipating next year we would get in the neighborhood of $20 million to do the construction,” said Dann Carlson with the Hawaii Department of Education.
Rep. Bob McDermott, R, Ewa, Ewa Beach, said the number of students in the Ewa area will continue to climb and the overcrowding issue will just get worse.
Taking a look at the projected growth at Campbell High School, nearly 3,600 students are expected within a couple of years.
“I’m bitterly disappointed that we deliberately underfunded emergency requirements,” McDermott said.
Lawmakers also approved a thousand dollars for a new high school in Kapolei, just a fraction of the $40 million requested.
“Do you think the DOE could have done a better job in organizing?” KHON2 asked.
“Absolutely. (Superintendent Kathryn) Matayoshi has been silent. She should have been out front and saying you need to fund this,” McDermott said.
But DOE officials said they attended every legislative hearing and specifically asked for money for a new building at Campbell. The high school also received 15 new classrooms from other schools.
So which schools did lawmakers recently approve funds for?
Here’s a look at some of the DOE’s capital improvement projects:
- $37.5 million to help build a new high school in Kihei, Maui;
- $16.4 million for a new building and renovations at Honowai Elementary in Waipahu; and
- $11.5 million for more classrooms at Mililani Middle School.
“What do you want to say to people out there who feel as if they have been neglected again?” KHON2 asked.
“Again, I would say the DOE has been very responsive to their needs,” Carlson said.
The DOE is thinking of ways to help with the crowded classrooms in the Ewa region. One option is to temporarily move some high school students to a new middle school that’s being built in Kapolei.