Riki Fujitani will serve as interim executive director of the School Facilities Authority, tasked with overseeing the construction and completion of school projects.
The School Facilities Authority is in search of a new leader after its former executive director, Chad Farias, resigned from his position at the end of last month.
SFA’s board appointed Riki Fujitani as interim executive director Tuesday. Fujitani previously served as director of the Office of Facilities and Operations’ auxiliary service branch within the Department of Education.
Fujitani’s effective start date has yet to be determined, said SFA Board Chair Alan Oshima during Tuesday’s meeting.
“There’s a huge amount of promise and money associated with the SFA at this moment that needs to be back on track as soon as possible,” Fujitani said following his appointment on Tuesday.
When SFA was created in 2020, it was intended to oversee schools’ capital improvement projects. In a December interview, Farias said the agency has primarily focused on constructing projects for charter schools and the state’s public pre-kindergarten program so far.
The agency had plans to take responsibility for all of the CIP funds allocated for public school facilities within the next two years, Farias said at the time.
SFA’s leadership change comes amid a legislative proposal to dissolve the agency and return its responsibilities to the DOE.
In Wednesday’s hearing on the bill, Senate Education Chair Michelle Kidani pointed out that, while SFA was intended to address inefficiencies in school construction projects, there’s no guarantee that DOE can do a better job moving forward.
“What are we assured of?” Kidani asked.
DOE has struggled to spend its CIP funds in the past, with the department proposing to lapse $465 million in funding at the end of last year.
Civil Beat’s education reporting is supported by a grant from Chamberlin Family Philanthropy.
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