Bill may fund KCC pilot program

Kaua‘i Community College will get to work next week on developing a science and technology program to be tested at two public high schools.

The college was selected by state lawmakers to implement the Hawaii Excellence Through Science and Technology Academy Pilot Program. The goal is to create science, engineering, technology and mathematics academies within state high schools and encourage students to pursue those subjects in college and beyond.

According to Charles Ramsey, dean of instruction at KCC, everything is still in the early stages. Representatives from the college and the Department of Education will meet Tuesday to get started on the program.

“We are beginning to develop plans … on how to proceed to achieve our tasks,” Ramsey said yesterday.

Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua‘i/Ni‘ihau, co-introduced the legislation and is pleased that Kaua‘i Community College will spearhead the program’s development.

“The college has the skills and expertise to create an excellent, groundbreaking pilot that will serve all of Hawai‘i well,” Hooser said in a press release.

According to the bill, Kaua‘i Community College is required to report its plans for the pilot program 20 days before the next legislative session, or the end of this year. Another report on the program’s implementation is due December 2008, with a final report on how to adapt it to other state schools due December 2009.

Roughly $261,000 from the state’s general revenues will be applied to the program during the 2007-2008 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The same amount has been appropriated for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. The money will fund up to three positions at Kaua‘i Community College in addition to other costs, according to the bill.

The Department of Education will be allotted $26,730 during the next two consecutive fiscal years to fund a position to collaborate with KCC.

The pilot program is one of many components of Senate Bill 885, passed by the Legislature on May 3. Other items addressed by the career and technical education bill include training and educational opportunities in diversified agriculture, landscaping aquaculture and technical fields such as graphic design and robotics.

The bill also encourages business and education internships and provides stipends for persons with science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees who obtain teaching certificates through the University of Hawai‘i.

According to Russell Pang, chief of media relations for Gov. Linda Lingle, the governor has not taken any action yet on SB 855. Pang said Lingle has 45 days from the end of the legislative session — or until July 10 — to sign the bill, veto the bill or allow it to pass into law without her signature.

During that time, all bills before the governor for consideration undergo an extensive review process. Public comment on the measure is welcomed via e-mail at governor.lingle@hawaii.gov.

To read the bill’s language, visit www.capitol.hawaii.gov, click on “Bill Status & Docs” and enter “SB885” into the search engine.

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