Bills to Develop School Lands Face Major Vote

Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat

Hawaii’s old schools need more than a fresh coat of paint to make them new again, state officials say. The facilities need to be overhauled to ensure students are learning in a 21st century environment, which involves flexible floor plan designs and advanced technology.

Two bills have emerged this legislative session to help the district make money off underutilized school lands by leasing the properties for other public purposes, such as workforce housing. The legislation has so far been able to overcome the backlash that has dogged the Public Land Development Corporation, which proposed doing something similar at a broader level but is now headed toward repeal.

Both school land bills, which face a big test Tuesday, propose public-private partnerships to help the district upgrade existing facilities and build new schools. They differ primarily in terms of which agency would have oversight and how many projects could be undertaken in the formative years.

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