Big Island Polls

Big Island Now poll No. 23: What is the biggest need for public schools on the Big Island?

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The new 2023-24 year for public schools has begun in Hawaiʻi. Teachers have been back in the classroom to prepare since the beginning of the month and students returned Monday.

But as the new academic year gets underway, the state’s public school system continues to face challenges.

A statewide school bus driver shortage is causing some routes on the Big Island to be to be modified. (File photo)

That includes a school bus driver shortage, which is impacting the Big Island by causing some routes to be modified. Poor working and learning conditions also continue to plague some schools on the island, such as aging infrastructure that was brought to light earlier this year at Hōlualoa Elementary in West Hawai‘i. Many classrooms don’t have air conditioning.

Teacher pay also continues to be a concern throughout the state, even though a new contract raises the average annual pay for teachers by 3.4%. The 4-year deal has been touted as “the best contract we’ve ever had” by some, and while it was a win, others say it still isn’t enough. Many public school teachers spend their own money or raise funds to supplement school supplies and materials. Plus, the cost to live in Hawai‘i remains at an all-time high.


Despite strides in some areas, Hawai‘i’s public schools still battle other problems as well, including teacher vacancies, teacher burnout, inconsistent or poor security and even not having an on-site kitchen to prepare school meals.

And many people are concerned about their children’s safety in the era of way too many mass shootings at schools around the country. In April, Waiākea High, Waiākea Intermediate and Waiākea Elementary schools were placed on lockdown as a precaution after police received a phone call about an active shooter at the high school. It proved to be a hoax.

But with the potential that it could happen in Hawaiʻi, Gov. Josh Green signed a law this year mandating active shooter drills in all state-affiliated public and charter schools.


As students head back to class, we want to know what you think are the most challenging issues facing the island’s schools.

Press Here to Take the Poll

Tell us here or on social media why you voted the way you did — or if your answer is not on our list, let us know what it is and explain. Voting ends at midnight Aug. 11. Results will be posted Aug. 13.


You can find the results from last week’s poll that asked “Do you think the Thirty Meter Telescope should be built on Maunakea?” by clicking here.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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