Thursday, April 21, 2016

A New Name for Our School

It happened so quickly that we haven't really realized the full impact yet.  Back in June 2015, the Daniel K. Inouye Institute asked if we would consider changing the name of our school. They were looking for an opportunity to honor this statesman for his work with the military as well as his support for education. After gaining the support of our school community as well as the military leadership of the 25th Infantry Division and US Army Garrison Hawaii, we moved forward with the proposal. On Tuesday, April 19, 2016, the Board of Education unanimously approved the request to change the name of our school from Hale Kula Elementary School to Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School. Pasted below is part of the letter I wrote to the Board of Education in support of the change.

Hale Kula Elementary School first opened in 1959, the same year that Hawaii became the 50th state. When Hawaii achieved statehood, Daniel K. Inouye was elected as its first member of the United States House of Representatives. In 1962, he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until his death in 2012. At that time, he was the President pro tempore of the Senate.

Senator Inouye was a veteran of World War II, a decorated member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and throughout his political career, he fiercely advocated for the military and education, and more specifically, for military children. He was instrumental in the creation of the Joint Venture Education Forum, a coalition of public school educators, military commands, government, community, and business leaders. He secured millions of dollars in funding to address concerns of military families, and Hale Kula was the beneficiary of thousands of dollars in JVEF funding for technology, textbooks, playground equipment, 3R’s projects, and other school-wide initiatives. Today, JVEF continues to work collaboratively to support our military-impacted schools.

In 2011, the Office of Economic Adjustment performed a facilities assessment of 157 schools located on military bases across the United States. When assessment results were released, Hale Kula Elementary School on Schofield Barracks ranked #9 on the list based on our capacity and condition of the school. Through a collaborative effort between the Department of Education and the US Army Garrison Hawaii, the school submitted a proposal and received $26.6 million in Congressional funding to address the deficiencies in the assessment. The State of Hawaii Legislature allocated the 20% match or $6.6 million for the project to proceed. Senator Inouye who chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee at the time, was instrumental in ensuring that Congress would allocate the funds. The school is presently in the third phase of a 3-year project, and the transformation of Hale Kula Elementary School has been remarkable. Students now and in the future will have a 21st century learning environment that makes exploration, discovery, collaboration, creation, and sharing possible, not just within the school but globally as well.

The Daniel K. Inouye Institute has approached the Department of Education and the leadership of Hale Kula Elementary School and requested that the school be renamed Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School to honor the late Senator. As a school on Schofield Barracks with an enrollment of 99% military-impacted students, we are supportive of this change. We are requesting that the Board of Education approve this request. We can think of no greater privilege than to rename our school after this American hero.

The change is effective immediately, but we have time to officially transition by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, Jennifer Sabas of the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, Army School Liaison Officer Wendy Nakasone, Major General Charles Flynn, and Colonel Richard Fromm for their support and assistance as we navigated the process, and mahalo to the Board of Education for approving this request. 

Senator Daniel K. Inouye

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