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Wednesday, December 30, 2015
New High School? What is DoE’s top priority?
By Rep Bob McDermott @ 9:18 PM :: 3267 Views :: Education K-12

The following has been released by the office of Rep Bob McDermott:

December 29, 2015

Dear Ms. Matayoshi:

I am writing to inquire about the Department of Education's (the "Department") priorities and criteria/metrics used in determining a new high school. Specifically, what is the Department's number one priority for a new High School in the State of Hawaii?

You see, I am concerned. The State is breaking ground on a new high school in Kihei which, when compared to West Oahu, is not needed. This is particularly troubling when I am told by present and former DOE officials that if we build this new high school, the State will not be able to afford another High School for 10 to 15 years.

Currently, West Oahu is in vital need of a new, state-of-the-art high school to educate our exploding population and empower our youth for the future. As you know, Campbell High School is currently at 150% capacity with over 3,000 students; enrollment is projected to reach 3500 within three years.

Nearby Kapolei High School is nearly at 120% capacity with over 2,000 students. Compare this to Maui High School and Baldwin High School, which enroll 3,200 students combined. However, this year, Governor Ige released capital improvement plans from the 2014 Legislative Session, which approved $3 million for "plans and designs" for a new high school in Kihei.

West Oahu is clearly the area in dire straits, but the Department ignores these simple facts to prioritize Maui and justifies the need by using a now-outdated (1990) environmental impact statement. Under the environmental impact statement, "substantial [population] growth" in central Maui is cited to justify the need for a new high school. If this is the criteria for prioritization, West Oahu supersedes any needs Maui may or may not have at this point in time.

While Campbell High School is slated to get a new building in the Governor’s most recent budget submission, this is merely a Band-Aid solution treating a symptom, but not addressing the underlying situation of geographical overcrowding and rapid population growth. If no new high school is built, we will be right back to square one within five years.

It is the Department's duty to educate our students and oversee the public schools in the State. When an area like West Oahu is growing and expanding with heavier burdens on its schools than elsewhere in the State, the Department should provide a plan to alleviate these burdens. To do so, the Department must establish priorities that are specific, fair, and accountable. Clearly, this has not been done, or it has not been communicated effectively to law makers.

In closing, I once again ask, what is the DOE’s number one priority for a New High School in the State of Hawaii? If not West Oahu, please provide justification.

Sincerely,

Representative Bob McDermott

House District 40

Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Iroquois Point

  *   *   *   *   *

RESPONSE Jan 6, 2015: The Case For A New High School For Kihei

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