Cleaning Up Hawaii Schools For Less

Published On: Oct 08 2011 01:31:01 AM HST   Updated On: Oct 09 2011 06:33:48 AM HST

The 3 R's used to mean Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. But now the 3 R's have a completely new meaning at Hawaii schools.

Parts of Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate school got a facelift. Native Hawaiian plants were added to the landscape and the campus was cleaned up. It was a project that could have cost the state $20,000 but instead it was done for half of that amount.

"Hawaii 3R's will only get involved if we can bring sweat equity so the actual dollar cost is one half," said Alan Oshima with Hawaii 3R's.

Instead of the state paying for labor for various projects, volunteers donate their time to the 3R's program, which stands for repair, remodel and restore our schools.

The program has been around for the past 10 years and during that time it has awarded nearly $18 million to fix island schools.

Volunteers at Saturday's project were made up of members of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawaii, along with parents of students. Most did not have landscaping experience and worked under the supervision of contractors. But in the end, they made the school more beautiful and volunteers came away with a sense of pride from their work in Waimanalo.

"We're proud can say we did that and we'll be checking on it so it looks as good as it does this morning," said Ben Wo, with Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawaii.

That is another key component to the 3r's program, which aims to keep the community committed to a school, long after the work is finished.

"If we get parents and community to work on the schools, they will maintain the schools after the project is done," said Oshima.

While the 3R's program receives some private and federal funding, money is no longer set aside in the state budget for the lower cost work on public schools. Now the organization will be asking residents to support their effort through donations on Hawaii tax returns.


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