Capital improvement funds OK’d for three East Hawaii schools

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Hilo Intermediate School sits beneath a blanket of clouds on Tuesday.

  • IGE


Three Big Island schools will receive state funding for capital improvement projects.

Gov. David Ige on Tuesday announced the release of more than $165 million in CIP money to fund critical infrastructure projects.


“The release of these state CIP funds is essential for the long-term health of our state — addressing some of our infrastructure needs and improving the quality of services in our communities,” Ige said in a news release. “We will continue to invest in maintaining, rehabilitating and rejuvenating a wide range of public infrastructure as we work to improve system reliability, advance public safety and enhance recreational experiences.”

Money released to the Big Island includes $2 million to complete the design phase for the renovation or replacement of Building A at Hilo Intermediate School.

State Department of Education spokesman Derek Inoshita said Hilo Intermediate’s Building A — the main building fronting Waianuenue Avenue — was built in 1929 and houses the school’s administration, library and auditorium, as well as multiple classrooms and support space.

The decision to renovate or replace sections of the structure will be made during the design phase, he said.

The Hilo Intermediate project has a cost estimate of $28 million, according to the release.

Hilo-Waiakea Complex Area Superintendent Esther Kanehailua said the building is well-utilized.

However, older school buildings in Hawaii are “substandard” in terms of size when compared to newer class buildings.

Newer classrooms provide more space and flexibility for teachers to set up their classrooms, she said.

Kanehailua didn’t have an estimate for when the project might be completed, but said it would likely take a few years.

“I think we always start the process hopeful that … the school can get what is needed, given where we are economically statewide,” Kanehailua said.

Another $500,000 will be used to partially fund the design and construction of science facility upgrades at Honokaa High and Intermediate School to better support hands-on learning and next-generation science standards.

The Honokaa project is estimated to be complete in August 2023 and cost $2 million.

Hilo Intermediate has 564 students, and Honokaa High and Intermediate has 644 students.

The University of Hawaii at Hilo also will receive $8 million in “Renew, Improve, Modernize” funds, money that was approved by the state Legislature in 2020 and allocated to the university for fiscal year 2021.

Kalei Rapoza, interim vice chancellor for administrative affairs, said the funds will be used for a number of projects across the campus, including deferred maintenance and improvement to UH-Hilo’s Campus Center, library and Student Services building.

The university also is looking to improve lab spaces on campus and its agricultural farm in Panaewa.

“These projects are important to create spaces that support students and instruction for today’s and tomorrow’s students, collaborative and diverse learning environments and opportunities for hands-on learning,” said Rapoza.

Other Big Island CIP funding includes $425,000 to finance the design of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection building at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole.


The $11.15 million project is expected to be complete in October 2022.

Email Stephanie Salmons at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email