More development means more residents, but can the schools handle the increase?

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New buildings are popping up all over urban Honolulu and when more places to live become available that also means more people will be moving in to the area.

A new Department of Education report says approximately 39,000 new residential units will be built between Kalihi and Ala Moana and that could bring in about 10,000 new students to the district.

In order to accommodate all those students the DOE says it would need to build six new elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.

“These kids have to go somewhere and the question is where are they going to go,” said HSTA president Corey Rosenlee.

But who would help pay for the construction of new schools and other upgrades?

“Are the taxpayers going to pay for the new schools or are the developers?” asked Rosenlee. “The developers as part of the cost of building a new place should have to build the infrastructure such as schools,” said Rosenlee.

The Board of Education is looking to adopt a school impact fee that would require developers who build units from Kalihi to Ala Moana to pay a fee.

“Our facilities in Hawaii are over 65 years old they are falling apart, our classrooms are crowded and we need the funding somehow,” Rosenlee added.

The DOE believes it would be able to get $22 million in construction impact fees from developers.

“We have to ask ourselves are we going to fix it and if we are going to fix it how are we going to pay for it and I think the school impact fees is one way of looking to do this,” explained Rosenlee.

Before any final decisions are made, The Board of Education will schedule public hearings to discuss school impact fees.

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