Karen A. Iwamoto
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment has approved approximately $70 million in grant funding to the Hawaii Department of Education for the rebuilding of Solomon Elementary School.
The state DOE will contribute approximately 20 percent in matching funds for a projected total of approximately $90 million.
The new Solomon Elementary School campus, to be built on land adjacent to the existing campus, will include one two-story building for administrative offices, student support offices and a library; another two-story building for 63 general education classrooms; a cafeteria; a covered play court; and parking for 160 vehicles.
“We’re beyond elated for this opportunity,” said Solomon Elementary’s principal, Sally Omalza said. “We’ll be able to consolidate our efforts. Right now, we’re kind of piecemealed out. With the new school, all of the administration will be in one location. Having this new, modern design will also help our teachers as they move into the future, teach for the future.”
She added that the school had been making progress to modernize its curriculum, including making progress to achieving a 1 to 1 ratio of computers to students. The new campus would be a physical manifestation of the school’s shift to the future, she said.
Wendy Nakasone-Kalani, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s school liaison officer, agreed.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Hawaii Department of Education to build a new school with 21st century facilities to enhance the learning experiences of our military children,” she said.
“The new facilities, equipment and furnishings will not only excite and impact student experiences and achievement, I believe that these things will also positively impact the teachers, staff and faculty of Solomon Elementary School,” she added.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for June, and the project is expected to be completed by December 2020. Students will continue to attend classes on the current campus while construction is underway.
The grant is the result of a 2011 decision by the U.S. Congress to distribute $250 million in grants to construct, renovate, repair or expand elementary and secondary public schools on military installations. The funds were distributed based on an assessment of the schools’ physical conditions and capacities. The results of that assessment, compiled in the 2011 DOD Educational Facilities Review, ranked Solomon Elementary 28th worst among 160 military installation schools nationwide.
Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School, also on Schofield Barracks, was ranked ninth on the Educational Facilities Review. In 2013, it received an approximately $27 million grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment for renovations and expansions to its campus. The state DOE contributed $6.6 million.