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Thursday, November 05, 2015
McDermott: Get the Politicians out of School Construction
By Rep Bob McDermott @ 5:50 PM :: 3361 Views :: Education K-12, Ethics

Rep. McDermott wants politicians out of School Construction

State CIP money is going to political cronies’ districts, not where it is really needed

News Release from Rep Bob McDermott November 4, 2015

The students, teachers, and community at large have been up in arms for years over the sweltering heat at Campbell High School.  This year the extreme overcrowding at our fastest growing High School has only compounded the situation.

There is no dispute among the experts, West Oahu needs a new High School and Campbell needs to be air conditioned.  Yet we continue to get crumbs and half measures. If the Politicians got out of the way, the DOE would have already accomplished these two items via their needs-based matrix.

Instead, CIP money goes to pet projects like a 15 million dollar performing arts center at Moanalua High School; this item was funded over the last two years.  This could have fully funded Campbell’s AC needs.   I am sure a performing arts center has merit, but not when compared to the kids that are sweltering on the west side.  In fact, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau, over the last 20 years Moanalua has received almost DOUBLE the Capital improvement expenditures ($17,821,000.00 vs. $30,792,000.00) when compared to much older Campbell High School struggling to serve an exploding population base. 

In August, Governor Ige released $3 million for "plans and designs" for a new high school in Kihei.  Citing "substantial [population] growth" in central Maui, the Legislature just handed over the money.  The only problem is that there is no substantial population growth.  When compared to West Oahu, it is a sad joke. West Oahu is the DOE’s number one priority, but the legislature funds a new High School in Maui…what the heck is going on here? Political favoritism and keeping leadership coalitions happy inside the square building is what is going on.

Campbell High School is currently at 150% capacity with over 3,000 students. Next year the projection is for 3,100 students and the number is expected to climb to 3,500 in 2017.  Nearby Kapolei High School is edging closer to 120% capacity and enrolls over 2,000 students, the overcrowding at Kapolei is due to overflow from Campbell.  Combined these two schools are 1,389 students over capacity, with only rapid growth on the horizon.

Compare this to Maui High School and Baldwin High School with 3,200 students combined, and \Baldwin at only 88% capacity. Combined, these two schools are only 117 students over capacity, or about three portables.

This coming  year the Legislative  battle will be whether to continue legislative feather bedding by building a new (un-needed) high school in Kihei, or build one where it is needed now, West Oahu.  The stakes are high because once a new High School is authorized, there will be a ten year gap before we can afford to undertake another 120 million dollar High School.  That is the reality.

The Legislature must stop giving money only to those with the most political pull and start focusing on the students who are crying out and have been ignored for over ten years.  It's time for the State to do the right thing and care more about its students than the politicians who can throw around their weight behind closed doors and away from the public's eye.

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