Lawmakers and DOE leaders learn ways to create better learning environments

Reported by: Vanessa Stewart

Lawmakers and DOE officials became students today .. learning ways to bring our public schools into the 21st century.

As technology improves the way students learn—education officials are learning how to construct spaces to adapt to their needs.

Dozens of officials who care about Hawaii’s education filled a classroom at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine Saturday.

“As we seek to repair and maintain our aging school facilities build new school facilities we really should think about all the current research and trends and best practices we know from other states and other countries,” says Senator Jill Tokuda, (D) Higher Education Chair.

They were all there to hear ideas about how other schools across the nation are creating better learning environments for their students.

A clip of a recently built school in washington state inspired many at today’s conference.

“It’s really about going outside of the box and i’m really hoping our department of education officials that are here can start to apply some of that as they look at projects that are coming through the pipe right now,” says Senator Tokuda.

Part of the problem is many of the learning facilities both here in hawaii and across the country are several decades old and cannot take advantage of new educational technologies.

“The real challenge for us though is what do we do with the 255 schools we have that are not new and most of those 255 are old,” says Randy Moore, Department of Education assistant superintendent.

One project already in the works at Farrington high school could see the some of the shared ideas implemented.

“Rehabilitation that will replace some of the buildings with new building we’ll take some of the older buildings and rehab them to create spaces that are more personal for students,” says Moore.

Though, with cuts made to education in the past, figuring out how to afford the upgrades will be a challenge.

“We can afford it if we can put our politically will into doing it we need to have the public say yes we need this we’re willing to pay for it,” says Moore.

“If we could figure out how to build buildings that actually will save us money then we can reach more children in our education,” says Wesley Lo, Board of Education Finance/Infrastructure.

The multi-phase redesign project at Farrington high school is expected to cost $100 million dollars.

KHON, January 14, 2012 - PDF

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