Hawaiʻi State Legislature Passes Key Measures to Invest in Education and Hawaiʻi's Students
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – In addition to the $2.4 billion (all Means of Financing) in the budget (HB 1600) for the Department of Education, the 2022 Legislature passed six (6) key measures to invest an additional $220 million in education (attached).
The House of Representatives has been committed to enabling our youngest keiki to be provided with pre-kindergarten. In 2020, the Legislature passed Act 46 which created a goal to expand preschool access to all 3- and 4-year olds by 2032. We identified two problems: (1) needing facilities for preschools and (2) needing a workforce.
"Making big change such as providing preschool access for 3- and 4-year old keiki takes time. Last year, we adopted HB 1362 (Act 210, SLH 2021) to create a stipend program for UH students to become early childhood educators. This year, HB 2000 provides an appropriation of $200 million to create appropriate spaces for these keiki to learn effectively. This investment lays the foundation for Hawaii's children to succeed," said Rep. Justin Woodson, Chair of the House Committee on Education.
Six (6) key measures noted:
HB 2000, Relating to Education, appropriates $200 million to the School Facilities Authority to expand access to pre-kindergarten for eligible children. The funds may be used to construct new school facilities; renovate, improve, and expand existing school facilities to increase pre-kindergarten student capacity; and any other costs to increase pre-kindergarten student capacity within the State.
SB 2821, Relating to Menstrual Equality, requires the Department of Education to provide menstrual products free of charge to all students on all public school campuses. Chronic absenteeism is one of the most powerful predictors of student success or failure. It is a priority for Hawaii public schools to minimize or eliminate chronic absenteeism. The inability to adequately manage menstruation, specifically the lack of access to menstrual products in schools, limits full participation in school, contributes to higher rates of school absenteeism and missed activities, and negatively impacts a student's ability to learn. The 2021 study of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and Mai Movement Hawaii reported that 42 percent of respondents missed class or left school because the respondents did not have access to menstrual products, and nearly 22 percent of respondents missed school entirely. Of those who missed school entirely, nearly 12 percent missed three to five school days, and 6 percent missed six to ten school days in an academic year.
SB 2826, Relating to Education, appropriates $2.6 million to establish a career development success program to provide financial incentives for participating public high schools and public charter schools to encourage students in grades 9 through 12 to enroll in and successfully complete qualified industry-credential programs. This bill will help fill shortages of qualified credentialed workers in various sectors, including health, education, air travel, agriculture, and technology. 65 percent of available positions in the current job market require post-secondary credentials. Full-time employees with industry credentials earn more than their uncredentialed counterparts.
SB 2184, Relating to Digital Learning, appropriates $7 million to create and staff the digital learning center. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the Department of Education to adopted digital learning. Digital learning has the potential to promote equitable delivery of high-quality educational offerings to student across the state.
SB 2862, Relating to Education, appropriates an additional $10 million to provide air conditioning for schools. The legislature initially invested $100 million in heat abatement upgrades in 2016 (Act 47). This resulted in more than 1,300 public classrooms being cooled. More than 5,000 classrooms still require heat abatement improvements.
SB 2819, Relating to Teacher Compensation, will assist with recruitment and retention of teachers by fixing inequities in the salary schedules.