School A/C debate leads to DOE apology, threat from lawmakers
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ewa Beach Elementary, Ilima Intermediate and Campbell High School. According to the Department of Education they're a top priority when it comes to installing air conditioning. But looking at the list the agency gave the public, you wouldn't know the projects are in the works.
"Our apologies for not expressing that these were funded but we are working on these," said Senior Assistant Superintendent Amy Kunz.
House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke says the legislature funded those projects directly. On top of that the DOE was given more than $258-million for construction including possible A/C projects. DOE chose to spend only $2 to $3-million of that for heat abatement.
"We have purchased every portable AC on the island currently about 140 units and we are deploying them to classrooms right now," said Kunz.
"The fact that we are giving $258-million of lump sum funds and DOE is saying they're only going to dedicate $2 to $3-million to A/C, I think that's the wrong approach," said Rep. Luke.
Rep. Luke says in the future lawmakers might reduce the agency's right to choose which projects they do.
"Instead of giving lump sum we could work with the area legislators. We should work with DOE to line item every specific project," said Rep. Luke.
"I think we really have to look at the pros and cons of that with our legislative partners," said Kunz.
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