School improvements could be completed faster under the DOE’s new plan

The contracting process significantly delays projects on DOE campuses. That could no longer be...
The contracting process significantly delays projects on DOE campuses. That could no longer be the case.(Hawaii News Now (custom credit))
Updated: Nov. 22, 2018 at 3:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With one in every five Hawaii public schools over 100 years old, there has been a significant backlog of repairs needed at campuses across the state.

Now, the Department of Education is launching its new facilities maintenance program to help get projects completed faster.

"We need to shorten the time it takes to make sure that our schools are wonderful and respectful places where our employees and our students want to be, and that we don't have things falling apart around them," said schools superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

Kishimoto says there are currently 3,800 outstanding repair and maintenance projects just waiting to be addressed.

The jobs range from roofing to HVAC and electrical needs, as well as ground maintenance.

To address this backlog, the department is switching to a new contracting process where several vendors will be ready to go for these common projects.

"For example, we just say we have 10,000 feet of this kind of roofing, and there's an already agreed upon price. We can immediately task those contractors to go out and start working on it," said Dann Carlson, DOE's Assistant Superintendent for School Facilities and Support Services.

Carlson says this method is more cost-effective and will significantly save time.

“It’s taking the (traditional contracting) system that sometimes takes upwards of seven years to complete a project, and now we can do this within months now,” said Carlson.

Education officials say they’re also creating a searchable database of all its capital improvement projects statewide to increase transparency and monitor the status of projects.

“Once completed, you can literally pull up a school, pull it up by name, and you can see all the projects that are at that school. They can dive into each of those projects and figure out exactly where that money is, how much has been spent, how much has been committed,” Carlson said.

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