Lahainaluna AC, Kihei office building in DOE 10-year plan

Installing air conditioning in classrooms in the Lahainaluna High School complex and constructing an administration building at Kihei Elementary School are some of the high-ranking priority projects identified in a recently released early draft of the Hawaii Department of Education Statewide Facility Master Plan.

The 10-year strategic plan provides a “road map” for equitably prioritizing and implementing public school facility projects statewide, according to its executive summary.

Through multiple steps and various meetings, DOE officials and school complexes, with input from the community, identified both their top priority projects and how they relate to solving issues that could include campus overuse and lack of space, among others.

For example, both the Maui and Baldwin high school complexes named constructing a new middle school as a top priority in order to reduce overcrowding at Maui Waena and Iao intermediate schools.

These priority projects from the complex were analyzed and placed into statewide lists and ranked. Not all top priorities from a school complex necessarily rose to become top priorities in the statewide list as various factors are considered among the schools.

The new middle school proposal by the Maui and Baldwin complexes is not envisioned to be funded in the 10-year plan put forward. The middle school cost is estimated around $131 million.

Currently, each year the state Legislature approves around $300 million for these types of capital improvement projects, DOE officials confirmed. The DOE maintains 261 school campuses throughout the state.

But the DOE will now look at the Facility Master Plan and see which projects to move forward.

“It’s clear that we have many competing needs across our school system — the plan identifies 1,300 projects, including an estimated $7 billion worth of projects that stakeholders consider to be ‘highest priority’ needs. It’s our job to determine how best to address these needs, and this plan will help guide that work,” said John Chung, the public works administrator for the DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “We will be integrating the information in the plan with our ongoing planning and budgeting process for capital projects.”

But Chung said that when funding becomes available and the DOE budget allows, the DOE can turn to this plan for “definitive data that have been vetted by our school communities and design team.”

He said the plan already identifies and ranks priority projects within the DOE capital improvement project budget categories, which are instruction, capacity, health and safety, support, repair and maintenance and compliance.

The plan will be presented before the state of Board of Education sometime in May, the DOE said.

Some of the top projects that made the statewide priority list include those that have already been funded or are in progress on the Valley Isle.

This includes the first and second phase of Kihei high school, along with a new eight-classroom addition for Lahainaluna High School.

Also high on the priority list but not funded yet is phased reconstruction at Maui High School.

Other projects high on the list but not funded yet include a covered basketball court at Maui Waena Intermediate, multipurpose STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) classrooms on Molokai, converting an old cafeteria at Iao Intermediate into a STEAM classroom, a new Kula Elementary School cafeteria and a new Makawao Elementary School multipurpose classroom addition.

Overall, the plan generated more than 1,300 projects for all 261 state campuses that the DOE maintains, including six conversion charter schools.

The plan was developed by 500 local state DOE and community stakeholders and included 100 students who all volunteered hundreds of hours in the yearlong process. The process culminated in a Statewide Allocation Summit in March.

The DOE contracted with Jacobs Engineering to develop the facility assessment and master plan.

For information on what the various committees discussed, see hawaii-doe-fmp.org.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@ mauinews.com.

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