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According to new DOE information the building of a $150 million high school planned for Kihei is not what is needed. Representative Bob McDermott has long held that the greatest need and future growth dictate that Leeward Oahu should be the state’s top priority. The new data would seem to prove him correct:
The DOE’s own enrollment numbers and projections are clear, West Oahu is in urgent need of a new high school. McDermott said, “the Governor’s new proposed building for Campbell is a half measure, and the day it’s completed Campbell and Kapolei will still be grossly over-crowded.
McDermott fears that decisions on school CIP budgets are becoming totally politicized. DOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayosi has not provided guidance to the Legislature with regards to the number one priority for a new high school. McDermott said, “She has refused to answer my written and pointed question – “what is the DOE’s number one priority for a new high school?” This has allowed legislators to carve up available money on the basis of favoritism and deal making at the state capitol. The Department of Education, who should be making recommendations on where new construction is really needed, based on hard data, seems to want to have nothing to do with it. “This can only be described as deliberate misfeasance,” said Representative McDermott. “And sadly, it business as usual.”
McDermott said the DOE has been co-opted to keep their mouths shut and go along with the powerful politicians who want to deliver pork to their islands. The numbers say it’s not needed, not to mention the huge operational costs of another high school being layered onto an already thinly stretched DOE budget; once built the implementation of the student weighting format will cause Maui and Baldwin high schools to have anemic funding level due to the transfer of students to Kihei, meaning loss of teachers, programs and extracurricular activities.
McDermott has called on Governor Ige to restore transparency to his administrative departments and especially the DOE, so that legislators can be fully informed where facilities are actually needed before committing such large amounts in CIP budgeting.