Hawai‘i Secures $56.5M in Federal Funding for K-12 Schools

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawai‘i, announced the state will receive $56.5 million in Federal funding to provide extra academic support for students in low income communities.

The funding, which will be for the 2021-2022 school year, is intended to support new technology, teacher professional development, additional educators, and other academic programs at public schools serving low income students. Funds will be given to Title I schools – where a disproportionate number of students live in poverty – and will benefit nearly 85,000 students in Hawai‘i. The funding is an increase of $2,329,625 from the 2020-2021 school year.

“This new Federal funding will help Hawai‘i public schools in low income areas hire more teachers and offer more academic support programs for students in need,” Sen. Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said.

Hawai‘i’s local education agencies expect to receive these funds by July 1, 2021. Funding will be distributed to counties based on need. Specific amounts are:

  • Hawai‘i County: $14,170,802
  • Honolulu County: $33,710,186
  • Kauai County: $2,255,287
  • Maui County: $6,357,580

While this new funding for technology will be a boon for low-income students, it comes on the heels of Hawai‘i schools struggling to find the right classroom technology.

In October of 2020, Hawai‘i Department of Education (DoE) Superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced in an email to parents that the state was discontinuing its use of the online curriculum Acellus Learning Accelerator.

Kishimoto said that the decision followed an internal review of the curriculum that was prompted by “numerous parent, school, and community complaints around issues of questionable and inappropriate content, rigor, and alignment to standards.”

DoE said that the review team recommended the program should be discontinued as a primary curriculum “due to its inconsistency in quality and rigor.” The letter said that reviewers did find that some of the content was acceptable and aligned with standards, so DoE will be working with schools using Acellus to leverage appropriate content.

As with many states, Hawai‘i rushed to implement new solutions for online and hybrid learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Kishimoto explained Acellus was deployed over the summer in “an effort to respond quickly” for “families reluctant to physically send their child to school when the school year opened.” Additionally, it was used by schools as a supplemental tool to support distance learning needs.

Following the October announcement, the DoE conducted a full internal review and concluded that the program should indeed be discontinued as a primary curriculum resource due to its inconsistency in quality and rigor.

Kate Polit
About Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs