LIHUE — New changes will soon be coming to Kauai High School following the release of $134.7 million in capital improvement projects identified by legislators as key projects needed to stand up the state’s economy and aging public schools.
The list of 39 public school projects, which were approved Thursday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, includes a $500,000 project at Kauai High School to renovate Building T — a former Kauai Intermediate and High School locker room — and build a new technology center, which will include a computer lab, digital media and video control room, two ADA-compliant restrooms, and office and storage space.
The capital improvement projects, he said, will also help bolster the unemployment rate, which fell to 4.7 percent in May.
“These priority projects will address many needed repairs and upgrades at our public schools to create environments in which students can learn and thrive,” Abercrombie said in a news release. “The improvements are an investment in our keiki and our economy.”
Former Kauai High School Principal Linda Smith said plans to build the center began several years ago as an effort to keep up with changing technology trends and provide teachers and faculty members with access to some of the latest tools.
Smith said she and other school administrators decided at the time to use the now vacant Building T for the project, because it has the right infrastructure in place to serve the needs of the students. State Rep. James Kunane “Jimmy” Tokioka said the Kauai High School Foundation then took the helm on the effort about two years ago by spearheading fundraising and outreach efforts for the project.
“The world has changed as far as education is concerned and the Foundation realized that and wanted to make sure there was a tech center on the campus,” Tokioka said. “It’s a Foundation project — along with the work that we did at the Legislature and the school to push for a room that is going to be the state-of-the art in technology — that is only going to benefit our children when they go to school at Kauai High. That’s some of the things that are very rewarding in the job that we do.” The need for such a project, Smith said, is especially important because technology is evolving continually even though there are, in most cases, not enough funding available to keep up with it.
“It’s been something that I believe is a dream come true for the former principal and a lot of the teachers and students at the school,” Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki said. “It’s great to have the funding be approved by the governor and I really appreciate his understanding of the school’s needs.”
Christine Hirasa, the governor’s deputy director of communications, said all the approved funds are available immediately for the schools to begin the approved projects.