Governor signs bill making historic investment in state-funded preschools

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Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 1:09 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 7, 2022 at 1:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige signed five education bills Thursday that will fund ambitions of higher quality learning environments for both traditional and non-traditional students.

“Collectively, these measures empower our public schools’ focus on workforce development and ensure that schools have the resources to provide a healthy and safe learning environment,” Ige said.

House Bill 2000 will direct $200 million to the School Facilities Authority for the construction of preschool facilities in fiscal year 2022 to 2023.

This is the largest investment into public preschools in the state’s history, Ige said.

The bill will seek to build and improve on facility conditions for eligible children of public preschools.

Senate Bill 2182 will establish a school garden coordinator position within the Department of Education.

The state hopes that building on Hawaii’s farm-to-school programs will influence improvements on student health, the agricultural workforce and farm-based education.

Senate Bill 2818 will establish a summer learning coordinator position within the DOE.

The bill states that more than 60% of elementary and middle school students are behind in their studies due to the pandemic, prompting a need for summer program support.

The coordinator will be in charge of all summer school based programs, including public, e-school, credit recovery and alternative summer learning programs.

Senate Bill 2862 appropriates $10 million to give air conditioning units to public school classrooms that have not yet received them. The bill states that more than 5,000 classrooms still require upgrades.

Ige hopes that by cooling classrooms, especially in recent hot summers, that it will create an “enticing and attractive environment for learning.”

Studies show how classrooms in Hawaii have been recorded at over 100 degrees during certain periods of the year, as stated in the bill.

In 2016, $100,000 was appropriated to the DOE, which the bill says funded upgrades for more than 1,300 public school classrooms.

House Bill 1561 establishes funding for a workforce readiness program within the DOE, specifically for adult or non-traditional students.

The bill directs the department to designate schools that may participate in the program. Ige says that he hopes it creates a “nurturing community for everyone.”

Successful programs already exist at McKinley and Waipahu schools, according to Ige.

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