State Lawmakers Make School Repairs a Top Priority

(KHNL)  Although everyone speaks Hawaiian at Anuenue School in Palolo, it has a lot of things in common with other public schools, like the need for repairs.

"I think when you ignore facilities for awhile, especially in Hawaii, it really becomes a wonderful hotel for termites," said Anuenue Vice-Principal Verlieann Leimomi Malina Wright.

Now Democratic lawmakers say rebuilding Hawaii's public schools is the centerpiece of their 2006 agenda.

They want to put $150 million into repair projects.

"We recognize a lot of people want their facilities, their educational facilities to get fixed and repaired," said Senate President Robert Bunda.

Schools across the state need repair jobs. The total estimated cost: $600 million.

Lawmakers say there's no way the state could afford to pay for all of its overdue repair and maintenance projects at one time, but they believe $150 million is a significant first step toward making the schools a better place for Hawaii's kids.

"Bottom line is people are saying hey, fix our schools," Bunda said. "Give the money, give the surplus back to the people. Give it in areas where there are unmet needs."

Anuenue converts any available space into classrooms, something it hopes will soon change.

"Its about time for public school children," Manila-Wright said. "They shouldn't have whatever is available."