Think About It: Kalihi Collapse - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

December 6, 2012

Think About It: Kalihi Collapse

When Farrington High School auditorium's roof collapsed two-weeks ago, we all breathed a sigh of relief that no one was injured or killed. Obviously, it could have been much worse. What this proved, if nothing else, is that the infrastructure problems which exist throughout our public school system need even more immediate attention and perhaps some maneuvering of funding to ensure that this situation does not get repeated anywhere anytime.

We have heard for years about the backlog in repair projects at dilapidated schools throughout the state. State funds have been approved and thus the backlog on repair and maintenance has dropped precipitously over the past few years, but this crash in Kalihi should remind everyone that work still needs to be done, and real potential problems need to be identified before they become a bad news story. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a public-private partnership here where private sector inspectors can help out in their own neighborhood or school district to identify "can't wait" projects. I know there are legal implications to this, but the State and the DOE are undoubtedly handcuffed by how many people can be in the field to assess all of the needs. And it goes beyond roofs and buildings, as aging issues also affect electrical systems, plumbing, and even athletic facilities.

At this point, the state is inspecting more school structures after the recent Farrington High School collapse. The roof of Farrington's auditorium was resurfaced in 2001, and the investigation as to what caused the Kalihi calamity continues. But this engineering collapse should be a wake-up call to all institutions- public and private, school and non-school- to spend a little extra time with trained professionals to ensure that flaws are found before they become tragedies. Think about it…

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