NA‘ALEHU — Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) officials and policymakers celebrated the rollout of a pilot program that subsidizes the cost of school supplies at Na‘alehu Elementary, one of the Title I schools participating in the program.
“I not only see smiling faces, but I see the next round of leaders for Na‘alehu and Hawai‘i,” Board of Education Member Kaimana Barcarse told Na‘alehu Elementary students gathered for an outdoor assembly on Monday. “Take these supplies that were provided for you and do the best you can for your education and become the leaders that will take care of our community in the future.”
Na‘alehu Elementary is one of 20 public schools included in a newly enacted pilot program (Act 142, Session Laws Hawai‘i 2022) that provides families of schools composed entirely of students eligible for Title I funding with free school supplies to help ensure educational success. Title I is the federal education program that provides financial assistance to schools with high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I schools have a minimum poverty threshold of 47.2%, meaning roughly half the student population comes from low-income families.
The 20 HIDOE schools enroll a total of 8,000 students who benefit from the school supply subsidy pilot.
State Sen. Dru Kanuha, who represents Kona and Ka‘ū and introduced the bill, and Board of Education Member Kaimana Barcarse, the Hawai‘i Island representative on the Board, joined Superintendent Keith Hayashi at Na‘alehu to recognize the benefits of the program and the positive impact to families and the school.
“I was so happy that not only did this pilot program start here in Na‘alehu, the bill originally was for Na‘alehu Elementary and because of the work of my colleagues Senator Kidani and House members, they changed it to make it a statewide program,” Sen. Kanuha said. “It’s because of you kids, you teachers, and this community that this will have a statewide impact.”
Superintendent Keith Hayashi said that the reaction from families has been overwhemingly positive and he hopes the pilot can be sustained.
“As we rolled out this program, I’ve been hearing some of the stories from other schools, and it’s definitely having a very positive impact. Families have been overcome with emotion when receiving the school supplies for their children, and they’re so appreciative,” Hayashi said. “I’m confident this pilot program will generate additional advantages beyond just the financial benefit. I look forward to collaborating with school leaders, like Principal Roddy, the Board of Education and legislators to best serve our students and schools.”
Kaʻū-Keaʻau-Pāhoa Complex Area Superintendent Stacey Bello added: "The Kaʻū-Keaʻau-Pāhoa complex area is extremely grateful to our legislators, Board of Education members and the Department for this support. Naʻalehu is one of six schools in our complex area who received school supplies funding to help our students and families start the year successfully."
Naʻalehu Elementary Principal Wilma Roddy said the program enabled all of Na‘alehu's 430 students to start the new school year off confidently with all of the needed tools in place.
“Many of our keiki that attend Na‘alehu live in rural and remote areas across Kaʻū. it takes our ‘ohana over an hour to drive to a Walmart, Target or Costco to buy school supplies or whatever we need, even groceries. The benefit of this program helps ease the financial burden of our ‘ohana and allow keiki to focus on learning because they have the necessary supplies to get going from the get-go,” Roddy said.
- ‘Aiea Elementary
- Hilo Union Elementary
- Hōnaunau Elementary
- Ka‘ewai Elementary
- Kamaile Academy Public Charter
- Kapiʻolani Elementary
- Kaʻū High and Pāhala Elementary
- Kauluwela Elementary
- Keaukaha Elementary
- Keonepoko Elementary
- Linapuni Elementary
- Maunaloa Elementary
- Mountain View Elementary
- Na‘alehu Elementary
- Nānāikapono Elementary
- Pāhoa Elementary
- Pāhoa High & Intermediate
- Pālolo Elementary
- Pope Elementary
- Wai‘anae Elementary