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  • Writer's pictureHawai'i House Democrats

Education Committee Chairs Allocate Federal Funds Critical to Public Schools

House, Senate Education Committee Chairs allocate federal funds to provide critical public school maintenance, bonuses for teachers, AC's, STEM, CTE, and COVID relief

Honolulu, Hawai'i – Lawmakers are poised to pass HB613 for Final Reading on the last day of the 2021 legislative session. The House and Senate have worked throughout a challenging session to appropriate funds for critical public school needs. This bill will ensure that our local students and teachers have the essential resources required to succeed. HB613 allocates moneys received by the state from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to areas where local schools are lacking the most.

"The availability of federal funds announced in March 2021 have allowed us to begin addressing longstanding issues within our public school system, such as our lack of adequately cooled classrooms," said Representative Justin Woodson, Chair of the House Education Committee.

"No teacher or student should have to languish in classrooms that are 85 degrees or higher, and we know there have been instances where our classrooms breached 100 degrees. We are excited to address this by providing funding for air conditioners fitted with HEPA filters to the DOE classrooms currently without air conditioning. I am also pleased that we are able to provide our teachers with a well-deserved $2,200 bonus. We greatly value all that our teachers do for our students."

Some of the bill's funding highlights include:

  • $110 million to address safe re-opening for schools, including installing air conditioners in schools with appropriate CDC filtration systems in ARPA funds,

  • $29.7 million for a one-time stabilization payment of $2,200 for each teacher in ESSER funds,

  • $100.3 million dollars for complex areas to provide complex area superintendents to aid in implementing school level programs such as STEM, CTE, Hawaiian culture, and social, emotional, and mental health needs.

Woodson said the support of Senator Michelle Kidani, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, was critical in getting the measure through the legislative process.

"Our families, students, and schools cannot wait much longer to find out how these emergency funds are going to be used. Our schools need to know what resources they will have at their disposal to plan how they will reopen their schools, "said Senator Kidani.

"It is important to look at HB613 in partnership with other bills passed this session. Bills like SB242 which will expand computer science curriculum across our state, or SB811 that requires the DOE to report COVID-19 cases by school rather than their current policy of reporting only by complex areas. These bills set the course while HB613 provides the resources.”

"I look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Education, our school communities, and my fellow legislators on building our education system to meet the needs of our students.”

The State of Hawai'i is the only public education system in the country that is wholly state funded and therefore benefits tremendously from this allocation of federal funds. The House will vote on HB613 during the final day of the 2021 Legislative Session Thursday, April 29.


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