HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's public schools are waiting for millions of dollars in repairs, but Department of Education officials said major progress has been made in reducing the backlog. The House Committee on Education received an update from the DOE about the 257 public schools statewide. The repair and maintenance backlog was $720 million in 2001. That figure dropped to $392 million last September.
"It has dropped by 45% in the last 10 years. That doesn't mean we still don't have a lot of work to do. There's a lot of routine repairs we still need to do," said Duane Kashiwai from the DOE's Office of School Facilities and Support Services.
Farrington High School was built 70 years ago, and it costs a lot of money to maintain the aging campus. The repair and maintenance backlog of $7.3 million includes buildings that need to be reroofed and electrical upgrades.
"Each school also gets a share in whatever funding we get. So they prioritize the work that they want to have done, and then depending on how much we get then we will go through their list from number one down to as far as we can get," explained Kashiwai.
The DOE is requesting $75 million for repairs and maintenance and $279 million for capital improvement projects.
"We're at a point now where we can start to focus on some of the more major systemic infrastructure issues that continue to plague the school system, such as electrical systems, water systems, those kinds of things that cost a lot more money than the routine repair and maintenance," Kashiwai said.
While some progress has been made, schools are still waiting for crucial changes on campus.
"It is a point in time where I think we have made significant strides, but we still have a lot more work to do so we need to then focus on the things that remain," said Kashiwai.
The DOE's budget request has been submitted to the governor for approval.