Community effort can stretch school dollars
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As thousands of Hawai'i's public school students start the new school year, their excitement is often dampened by the poor condition of our aging school facilities.
Peeling paint, cracked walls and worn-out white boards are just some of the repairs put on hold due to lower-than-expected tax revenues, which have prompted schools to do only the most crucial of repairs, at least for now. As Advertiser reporter Loren Moreno reported, upgrades at more than 50 schools were put on hold due to $110 million in funds being held back.
Here's an opportunity for the private sector and our community leaders to make a big difference.
One avenue to do that is through a private nonprofit organization, Hawai'i 3R's (which stands for repair, remodel and restore Hawai'i's public schools). They bring together outside resources to help tackle the DOE's repair and maintenance backlog, now in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The initiative, formed in 2001 by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, leverages state funding, federal funding, private contributions and "sweat equity" from the community — from trade unions to businesses to military and church groups.
So partner up with your neighborhood school and volunteer your time — Hawai'i 3R's will step in to provide the added funding and skilled labor. (See today's letter to the editor from Hawai'i 3R's executive director Ryan Shigetani.)
It's a smart way to stretch school maintenance dollars: Schools receive much-needed repairs; local businesses participating earn state tax credits. More importantly, students will know we care about our public schools.