Households earning less than $50,000 annually that have a student enrolled in public school grades K-12 would be eligible to receive $1,000 in direct payments to use for education expenses under a proposal moving through the Hawaii Legislature that attempts to offset some of the costs of pandemic-related learning needs.
House Bill 1834, which cleared the Finance committee on Friday, proposes a one-year pilot program to dole out $1,000 one-time grants to qualifying households, prioritizing lower earning families. The money could be used for expenses such as laptops, education software or therapies.
A companion Senate bill, SB 2816, is set for a vote in the Ways and Means committee Wednesday morning.
The House measure seeks a $5 million appropriation from the state’s general fund to get the program started with an initial pool of 5,000 public school students. The program would be overseen by the Hawaii Department of Education, which would set up the grant application process.
The proposal is loosely based on a program that began on Lanai island last school year launched by the education advocacy nonprofit HawaiiKidsCAN. The program distributed roughly $11,000 in donated funds from outside groups to families to supplement their children’s learning needs with tutoring or software purchases.
David Miyashiro, HawaiiKidsCAN’s executive director, says this concept would use state funds to assist parents who have made extra financial investments toward their children’s learning since the pandemic hit.
“Parents are looking for any help they can get,” Miyashiro said. “It’s not uncommon for parents to chip in and pay for things. We feel this could fill some of those pukas.”
“This is taking some work off the plate of schools,” he added.