By: Minna Sigimoto
(KHNL) -- This year, the state Legislature passed the Fix Our Schools Act to address the backlog of repair and maintenance projects at Hawaii's public schools. We tagged along with work crews from the Central District who are putting the additional funding to good use.
Michael Rodrigues straps on his tool belt and prepares to move in. Moanalua High wants better lighting for its school library.
"We're taking out the recess lighting," Rodrigues said. "And we're installing four-foot, vapor-type light fixtures."
Rodrigues and partner James Sakane are electricians, who work for the Department of Education.
"We like what we do," Rodrigues said. "It's doing our part to help the students of Hawaii."
At Salt Lake Elementary, a team of carpenters is also hard at work.
"We are repairing a window that's termite eaten," Monty Roque, DOE carpenter, said. "So we're just making new frames and installing a new one. Everything new."
The damaged wood sits in the back of a truck, as the new frames go in. Jeff Davis is the Central District's building maintenance supervisor.
"I have a crew of around 23 men," he said. "And it consists of plumbers, electricians, carpenters, building maintenance workers."
His crew wasn't always able to tackle work orders in this way.
"In the past, there was, there was money being allotted, but not enough to really make an impact," Davis said.
But with his new budget,
"We can do anywhere from, as little as 90 work orders to as much as 120 work orders a week," he said. "And you can actually see the difference in the schools."
Roque worked as a carpenter for more than 30 years, before he joined the DOE.
"It feels better. I mean, you know you're doing something good," Roque said. "You see the kids. They're happy when they see you fix things for them."
Back at Moanalua High, the new library lights are on.
"It's real important what we do, at least James and I think so," Rodrigues said.