Governor signs bill providing historic investment in state-funded preschools


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Governor David Ige on Thursday signed five education bills that will fund ambitions for better learning environments for traditional and non-traditional students.

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

House Bill 2000 will allocate $200 million to the School Facilities Authority for the construction of pre-school facilities in fiscal year 2022 to 2023.

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

The bill will seek to strengthen and improve the reception conditions for eligible children in public kindergartens.

Senate Bill 2182 will create 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 in student health, the farm workforce, and education on the farm.

Senate Bill 2818 will create 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, necessitating support for summer programs.

The coordinator will be responsible for all summer school-based programs, including public programs, online schools, credit recovery, and alternative summer learning programs.

Senate Bill 2862 earmarks $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 need to be upgraded.

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

Studies show how classrooms in Hawaii have recorded over 100 degrees during certain times of the year, as reported in the bill.

In 2016, $100,000 was earmarked for the DOE, which, according to the bill, funded improvements for more than 1,300 public school classrooms.

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

The bill directs the ministry to designate schools that can participate in the program. Ige says he hopes it will create a “nurturing community for everyone”.

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

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