By Big Island Video News

(BIVN) – Various education-related bills were signed into law by Governor Josh Green on Monday, after passing through the State Legislature earlier this year.

Officials hope the new laws “will have positive and far-reaching impacts for Hawai‘i keiki, educators and school facilities in the years to come,” a State news release said.

“These new laws will provide additional support to advance the efforts of many throughout our public school system, to educate students,” said Governor Green. “Nearly 169,000 students were enrolled in public and charter schools during the 2022 to 2023 school year. A number like that highlights the need for sound policies and support systems, sufficient funding, and resources for employees to ensure quality teaching and learning. Clearly, our students of today, are our leaders, our workforce and our parents of tomorrow, and it is our kuleana to set them up for success.”

The Governor signed four bills during a ceremony held on Monday. A later news release detailed the highlighted measures:

“We need 1,200 teachers to fill our annual teacher shortage,” Governor Green said. Construction of teacher housing is seen as a key step in the future of education of Hawai‘i’s keiki. Affordable housing will aid in recruitment and retention of teachers, and that will help to address the shortage. SB941 (Act 172) authorizes the School Facilities Authority to partner with public and private agencies to develop housing on- or off-campus for teachers, other educators and staff, and to develop classrooms.

Governor Green thanked Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke for leading the charge for the youngest of our learners. The Lieutenant Governor has taken a progressive approach to providing a strong foundation for early education efforts.

“All the momentum building to prioritize statewide preschool expansion, builds on decades of hard work from the early learning and childcare community in Hawaiʻi. The acts Governor Green signed today will not only focus on our youngest learners but provide economic stability to local families and support the state’s early education workforce,” said Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke. “It will take continuous collaboration to achieve universal access to preschool, so thank you to the Ready Keiki partners, the legislature, and Governor Green for supporting this effort,” she said.

HB960 (Act 175) places prekindergarten facilities within the authority of the DOE School Facilities Authority and transfers $200 million in general funds to the School Facilities Special fund for FY 2023-24. The funds will expand access to Pre-K to eligible children.

Governor Green also thanked Senate and House Education Committee Chairs, Senator Michelle Kidani and Representative Justin Woodson, for their leadership and commitment toward education for our keiki throughout the years, and to all the members of the legislature who strive to give our keiki the best possible future.

“We celebrate these bills as significant strides towards a brighter future for our students and educators,” said Senator Michelle Kidani, (Senate District 18, Mililani Town, Waipi‘o Gentry, Crestview, Waikele, portion of Waipahu, Village Park, Royal Kunia), Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “By investing in teacher housing, improving school facilities, and expanding early childhood education, we are paving the way for the success of our state and its future generations.”

“Education is about assuring that all of our keiki are lifted up, and these bills highlight how we can build a stronger world-class education system in Hawaiʻi,” said House Committee on Education Chair, Representative Justin Woodson (District 9, Kahului, Pu‘unēnē, portion of Wailuku).

HB503 (Act 174) acknowledges the importance of computer science in an increasingly technology-driven world, by requiring the Board of Education to determine whether making computer science a graduation requirement would be in the best interests of public school students and the public; and if so, to work with the Department of Education to analyze a timeline and process for making computer science a graduation requirement by no later than the 2030-2031 school year.

“From artificial intelligence to advances in healthcare, renewable energy, and agriculture, the current and future impact of technology cannot be overstated,” said David Sun-Miyashiro, executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN. “That is why computer science is a foundational area of education in 2023 and beyond. HB503 is critical in that it increases equity and access to computer science courses for all of Hawai‘i’s students, so that the STEM fields will finally reflect the diversity of our state. Our youth will not only understand these core concepts, but they’ll also have the choice to shape the innovations of the future and have jobs that enable them to afford to stay in Hawai‘i.”

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