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Campbell High School principal Jon Henry Lee recently hosted an emergency meeting with state legislators to discuss an urgent situation.

Campbell High School originally was designed to serve 1,800 students, but the Ewa District’s population has grown more than 40 percent since 1990 and expands annually by 1.7 percent.

Currently, Campbell is the largest public high school, with student enrollment at about 3,000 students, and that number is expected to increase to 3,500 students within only three years.

Classes are packed with an average of 40-45 students, and the school is 30 classrooms short.

Cost estimates range from $30 million to $50 million to build an additional school building.

Earlier this year, the school’s vice principal, Shayne Greenland, indicated that increasing classroom capacity by building portable classrooms can help relieve congestion within a relatively reasonable amount of time and cost. H

However, additional funding is needed in order to meet immediate needs. Even though a permanent building is ideal, I concurred with his logic and introduced a bill that sought to appropriate $5 million to Campbell High School for portable classrooms.

Unfortunately, the bill never received a hearing.

Surprisingly, none of the current drafts of the state budget being considered by the Legislature shows any plans for new Campbell classroom space.

Although the state has plans for an additional high school in East Kapolei, no site has been selected.

While a site has been chosen for a Ho‘opili high school, actual construction probably won’t be completed for at least another 10 years.

To add insult to injury, Campbell still does not have air conditioning.

Based on previous years’ estimates, at least $13 million is needed to install air conditioning for the whole school.

Further, the school still awaits upgrades to its infrastructure to accommodate the air conditioning units— Gov. David Ige recently released $2.3 million to the state Department of Education for this purpose.

Campbell teacher Corey Rosenlee tirelessly advocates for air conditioning, and that funding is, in part, thanks to his efforts.

Much work remains to be done.

The state needs to rethink its priorities if it truly wants Campbell students to succeed.

Your Ewa Beach legislators all are united in working for Campbell in a bipartisan, shoulder-to-shoulder effort.

However, others who work in a comfortably air conditioned, uncrowded building are only paying lip service to students.

We can do better. These students, who are the future of our community, deserve better.

McDermott Head shot blue shirtContact state Rep. Bob McDermott (District 40 — Ewa, Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point) at 586- 9730 or repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov.

 

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