State releases $75M in funding for preschool construction; lawmakers question

Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke who is spearheading the state's $200 million preschool expansion plan says the list isn't accurate.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 9:15 PM HST|Updated: May. 4, 2023 at 4:38 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After the state released $75 million to pay for the construction of new preschool classrooms last week, the Hawaii Department of Education compiled a list showing where the money would be spent.

But Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke — who is spearheading the state’s $200 million preschool expansion plan — said the list isn’t accurate.

“Oh, no. So that was a preliminary list,” Luke said.

The list included $20 million for the Kamaile Academy in Waianae to build 10 new classrooms and $6 million for Kapaa Elementary School on Kauai.

Sources said some of the schools were already expecting the money. Gov. Josh Green even sent out letters to state lawmakers informing them about preschool expansions in their districts.

In one letter to state Sen. Angus McKelvey of Maui, Green wrote that McKelvey’s district will see a total of $5 million in preschool construction at Kihei and Princess Nahienaena elementary schools.

“This investment in our keiki addresses barriers to child care so prevalent in our islands,” he wrote.

But Luke said many of the preschool projects might be impractical at this time.

“Different schools might say, hey, you know what, we would like 10 classrooms or five classrooms. And then when the Department of Education and our departments go and investigate, there is not enough room for 10 new classrooms,” she said.

“Or, they’re not quite ready because you need significant amount of foundational work, which will be really costly,” Luke added.

DOE officials confirmed that the list is only preliminary. They added that any decisions on how the $75 million will be up to the Lieutenant Governor.