Using Surplus For Our Schools

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - January 11, 2006
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Let me join the ever-increasing chorus of voices telling our governor we do not want her to give us back those millions of surplus dollars. Year after year we have watched our schools deteriorate almost to the point of no return. Sure, things are a little better now. They’ve put in new systems that make the repair and maintenance process more efficient. But it is not enough.

What the schools need is money. They need electrical upgrades so they can run computers, lights and air conditioners at the same time without blowing a fuse. Heck, they need air conditioning! So many of our classrooms are hot and dirty, distracting and outdated. Kids need to concentrate on the important things - like learning. They can do that so much better in climate-controlled, quiet areas. At August Ahrens School in Waipahu one new building and a row of portables have AC - the majority of kids in the other buildings sweat. On the blazingly hot Leeward coast, parents offer to provide air conditioners for their children, and are turned away because inadequate electrical systems can’t handle the extra juice. So much for community involvement.

They need campuses that don’t flood during heavy rains and buildings with roofs that won’t leak. They need asbestos-free, safe environments. They need unbroken louvers, new security systems,

more security personnel, better lighting and bathrooms that aren’t scary to use.

They need more classrooms at some schools, and entire new schools in other areas. They need computers, gym equipment, updated science labs and new textbooks. They need lockers, showers, supplies, copiers, musical instruments.

They need more money for teacher training and retention. We have gifted students falling through the cracks, and special-ed kids losing qualified teachers because there aren’t enough to go around.

And we have a federal mandate - no child left behind - that requires money to achieve. A lot of it.

We are imploring our state leaders to use the surplus wisely. Their voices are getting louder and more cohesive the closer we get to the opening of the legislative session. I know it’s been said already, and I don’t care. If enough people repeat it, maybe they’ll sit up and listen. I want the governor and lawmakers to realize that there are a lot of folks like me who are willing to give up a few bucks in our pockets if it will benefit the children of this state. If this is a windfall, put it to use. Invest wisely. Make it matter. What an opportunity we have to really make education second to none!

And what a crying shame it would be to squander it.

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