Yahoo Weather

You are here

Waimea Middle School’s hope for a nine-classroom science and techology building progresses

<p>Representatives with The State House Finance Committee visited sites throughout Hawaii Island, including Waimea Middle School. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Representatives with The State House Finance Committee visited sites throughout Hawaii Island, including Waimea Middle School. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Representative Justin Woodson, from Maui, visits Waimea Middle School with the State House Finance Committee, who toured the campus on Aug. 8. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Representative Justin Woodson, from Maui, visits Waimea Middle School with the State House Finance Committee, who toured the campus on Aug. 8. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Representative Gregg Takayama, from Pearl City, left, visits Waimea Middle School with Representative Justin Woodson, from Kahului, with the State House Finance Committee. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Representative Gregg Takayama, from Pearl City, left, visits Waimea Middle School with Representative Justin Woodson, from Kahului, with the State House Finance Committee. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Representative Justin Woodson, from Maui, visits Waimea Middle School with the State House Finance Committee, who toured the campus on Aug. 8. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Representative Justin Woodson, from Maui, visits Waimea Middle School with the State House Finance Committee, who toured the campus on Aug. 8. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Representative Scott Nishimoto, vice chair of the House Finance Committee, visits Waimea Middle School on Aug. 8. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Representative Scott Nishimoto, vice chair of the House Finance Committee, visits Waimea Middle School on Aug. 8. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Waimea Middle School principal Matt Horne speaks with representatives from the State House Finance Committee as they toured sites throughout Hawaii Island. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Waimea Middle School principal Matt Horne speaks with representatives from the State House Finance Committee as they toured sites throughout Hawaii Island. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

Waimea Middle School principal Matt Horne speaks with representatives from the State House Finance Committee as they toured sites throughout Hawaii Island. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Waimea Middle School principal Matt Horne speaks with representatives from the State House Finance Committee as they toured sites throughout Hawaii Island. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)

With an additional $5 million in financial support and continued perseverance, the long-planned Waimea Middle School nine-classroom, science and technology building could soon become reality.

Last month, members from both the House Finance Committee and the State Senate toured the current facilities and examined the spot for the new building.

“It has been 20 plus years since there has been an investment in educational infrastructure in Waimea. It is time,” WMS Principal Matt Horne told the visiting House Finance Committee members on Aug. 8. “It is time that we show our kids and our community that we value their education and give them the hope for what they can become in the 21st century. This is preparing kids for 21st century learning.”

The new science and technology building, to be housed on what is now a soccer field across from Mala’ai Culinary Garden, will provide “essential classroom facilities to support 21st century science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum for the schools sixth through eighth grade students,” according to the school.

“We have great teachers here, but our facilities with technology integration are not where they need to be in order to prepare our students for the 21st century,” said WMS Principal Matt Horne before the House Finance Committee visit.

Visiting on Aug. 8 from the State House of Representatives: Finance Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sylvia Luke, Vice-Chairman Rep. Scott Nishimoto, Rep. Ty Cullen, Rep. Beth Fukumoto, Rep. Mark Hashem, Rep. Kaniela Ing, Rep. Bert Kobayashi, Rep. Nicole Lowen, Rep. Richard Onishi, Rep. Gregg Takayama and Rep. Justin Woodson. Also participating was Rep. Aaron Johanson, Rep. Mark Nakashima, Rep. Faye Hanohano, and Budget Chief Susan Fernandez.

On Aug. 20, visitors from the State Senate included: Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, Ways and Means Chairman Sen. David Ige, Vice Chairwoman Sen. Michelle Kidani, Sen. Kalani English, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, Sen. Laura Thielen, and Sen. Malama Solomon. Also attending were State Ways and Means Committee staff members Rod Becker and Calvin Azama.

In 2007, the Legislature authorized $1 million for planning, design and engineering for the new building. In 2013, the legislature authorized $5 million for a portion of the construction. The school still needs the additional $5 million to complete the construction and to fully equip the building. The additional funding will cover: the remainder of the construction costs; classroom furnishings; classroom technology to include computers, smart boards and other necessary equipment; a paved entry drive for student safety and to reduce dust; a hands-on environmental stewardship learning lab, which will include photovoltaic installation and design features for student lessons on monitoring and managing energy consumption as well as potable water, utilities and data connectivity for the building.

Horne told the group that the new STEM common core educational strategies prepare students for college and career opportunities.

“In order to do that, you can have the greatest teaching staff, but we need them to be able to integrate technology and have that experience, and we need it now at the middle school. It is long overdue,” Horne said.

Horne said that Waimea Middle School is a public conversion charter school, and that 67 percent of the Waimea Middle School students fall at or below the poverty line and qualify for free or reduced lunch. At the same time, he said that the area generates the majority of the general excise tax and the transient accommodation tax at about s70 percent.

“We are the community school,” he said. “We take all kids –we don’t turn anyone away.”

Before the tour, he told the visitors to observe some of the challenging conditions for teachers.

“Our teachers are working from laptops that are on desks that may or may not connect to the wireless,” he told the visitors. “You may see that they are teaching physical and life sciences on the corners of students’ desks.”

“It was really a terrific opportunity for the House Finance to visit,” said Rep. Luke.

Luke described Waimea Middle School as “very impressive.”

“They are taking full opportunity of the space they have, getting students engaged,” she said. “It was good to peek into some classrooms and see teachers and students in their working conditions.”

She said that the people of Waimea should be thankful for the work that Horne has done with their school, and that the school has the advantage in that it has room to expand.

“There are opportunities for growth there,” she said of the physical space.

“Special thanks to our Sen. Malama Solomon and Rep. Cindy Evans for helping both to secure funding this past session, and then to bring these important public policy leaders to personally visit our school to see teachers and students working hard together,” Horne said.