What Hawaii's Legislature Has in Store for Education

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Hawaii’s blistering classrooms could soon see cooler days if state lawmakers decide to give public schools money this year for air conditioning, a rare commodity that’s lacking even in the hottest parts of the islands.

Legislators on the education committees expect classroom cooling to get some buzz during the upcoming legislative session, which kicks off Jan. 15. Both the governor and the Hawaii Department of Education have requested $25 million for air conditioning in their supplemental budget proposals, a sign that a grassroots Campbell High School-led campaign urging the state to relieve schools of their sizzling temperatures is paying off.

But AC, which ultimately could cost more than $1 billion if it were to be installed and maintained in all classrooms, is just one piece of what’s expected to be a larger conversation about school facilities. And some lawmakers say further research on cooling alternatives and needs for schools is in order before the state hands over the money for AC units.

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