SB 237 Would Give DOE Unfettered Power to Lease Public School Land
by Liz Larson
Senate Bill 237 sets a dangerous precedent for corruption in the lease of public land. The bill states “Notwithstanding sections 171-13 and 302A-1151, or any other law to the contrary, the department may lease public school land on terms it deems appropriate…”
This means that if Senate Bill 237 passes, the Department of Education (DOE) may ignore the current laws that put the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) in charge of leasing public land. This is dangerous because the DOE does not have the same rules and safeguards in place that the DLNR does that ensures the decision making process is not prone to corruption. Essentially, the DOE would have unfettered power to lease any public school land in the state.
On Friday, April 26th, the bill narrowly passed conference committee and will be up for a vote in both the Hawaii State Senate and the Hawaii State House of Representatives this Tuesday, April 30th. Please contact your local legislators and urge them to vote ‘No’ to Senate Bill 237.
§171-13 Disposition of public lands. Except as otherwise provided by law and subject to other provisions of this chapter, the board may:
(1) Dispose of public land in fee simple, by lease, lease with option to purchase, license, or permit; and
(2) Grant easement by direct negotiation or otherwise for particular purposes in perpetuity on such terms as may be set by the board, subject to reverter to the State upon termination or abandonment of the specific purpose for which it was granted, provided the sale price of such easement shall be determined pursuant to section 171-17(b).
No person shall be eligible to purchase or lease public lands, or to be granted a license, permit, or easement covering public lands, who has had during the five years preceding the date of disposition a previous sale, lease, license, permit, or easement covering public lands cancelled for failure to satisfy the terms and conditions thereof. [L 1962, c 32, pt of §2; Supp, §103A-13; HRS §171-13; am L 1973, c 205, §1; am L 1976, c 193, §1; am L 1980, c 4, §1; am L 1983, c 25, §1; am L Sp 2001 3d, c 15, §§12, 13; am L 2002, c 69, §1]
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§302A-1151 - Sale of school lands unnecessary for school purposes. The chairperson of the board of land and natural resources is hereby requested, upon the recommendation and approval of the superintendent, to sell any state lands, including the buildings thereon, once used but no longer necessary for school purposes. [L 1996, c 89, pt of §2]
§302A-1151.5 Use of vacant public school facilities. (a) When the department considers whether to close any particular public school, it shall simultaneously give reasonable consideration to making all or portions of the facilities of the public school available to charter schools and pre-plus programs; provided that the facilities may be used for any other purpose the board deems appropriate.
(b) The department shall identify unused public school facilities that may be appropriate for:
(1) Charter schools;
(2) Early learning programs, such as the pre-plus program; and
(3) Any other purpose the board deems appropriate.
Suitable empty classrooms, as determined by the department, shall be inventoried for potential use by charter schools, early learning programs, such as the pre-plus program, or for any other purpose the board deems appropriate. Priority shall be given to facilities on sites with sufficient space for three or more classrooms.
(c) The department shall adopt rules necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
(d) For purposes of this section, "public school" means any school that falls within the definition of public schools in section 302A-101, except for charter schools.
[(e)] Upon receipt of a notice pursuant to subsection (b), the executive office on early learning shall solicit applications from pre-plus programs interested in using and occupying all or portions of the facilities of the public school and submit a prioritized list of pre-plus programs to the department for final determination of which pre-plus program, if any, shall be authorized to use and occupy the public school facilities. [L 2010, c 144, §2; am L 2012, c 130, §10 as superseded by c 133, §22 and c 178, §4]
In subsection (e), the reference to subsection (b) is to former subsection (b) that was deleted by L 2012, c 133, §22.
§302A-1151.6 Parking; control by department. (a) The department may adopt rules in accordance with chapter 91 to govern the traffic and parking conditions on roadways and other areas under the jurisdiction of the department.
(b) The department, in accordance with chapter 91, may:
(1) Assess fees for parking on roadways and in parking areas under the jurisdiction of the department; and
(2) Adopt rules relating to the assessment and collection of fees for parking specified in this section.
(c) Fees collected under this section shall be deposited into the same fund into which fees and charges assessed and collected by the department for the use of school facilities under section 302A-1148 are deposited; provided that any parking fees assessed and collected by a school shall be deposited to the credit of the school's nonappropriated local school fund account.
(d) The department may contract with the department of accounting and general services or a private entity to implement this section. [L 2010, c 190, §2]