HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hale Kula Elementary School, a Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) school located on the U.S. Army's Wheeler/Schofield Barracks property, has been awarded a $26.6 million grant by the United States Department of Defense (DOD). The grant, combined with $6.6 million from the DOE, will allow the 53-year-old campus to upgrade its facilities and add several new buildings.
The DOD grant is part of a $250 million effort to upgrade public schools on military installations nationwide. In 2011, the DOD reviewed 160 schools and rated them on conditions and capacity. According to that report, Hale Kula ranked ninth worst out of 160. Priority schools were invited to apply for the DOD's Office of Economic Adjustment grant for construction, renovation, repair, or expansion of current facilities. Military dependents represent 98 percent of Hale Kula's nearly 1,000 students.
"When men and women serve in our military, their children serve too," said U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono. "This much needed funding will help ensure the children of families stationed at Schofield Barracks can learn in a school with facilities that meet their needs. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will work closely with the Department of Defense and base leaders to ensure other public schools on Hawaii military bases will be considered for these grants."
The work is slated to begin over the summer, marking the first upgrades to the campus since it was built in 1959. Principal Jan Iwase said plans call for a new administration building, two-story classroom building, a student center and library-media center, additional classrooms, and the renovation of existing classrooms.
"We're very excited about this opportunity," said Principal Iwase. "Modernizing our facilities gives a tremendous boost to our learning environment and in turn, student achievement."