KIHEI — State Department of Education officials confirmed during a meeting Thursday night that the Kihei high school is on track to open for the 2021-22 school year, but they left some long-suffering parents pleading for it to open with all grade levels at the start.
“I’m super excited we’re at this point — don’t get me wrong,” Kihei resident Halleh Dunnicliffe said during the meeting at Kihei Elementary School. “But let’s start with a full school. Let’s start with all grade levels.”
Nearly 50 residents and parents voiced their concerns to state officials over the opening of the school, its name, construction timeline and funding. The school had once been targeting a 2014 opening, which was pushed back to 2016 and then 2020.
Lead architect Charles Kaneshiro, president of architectural design and engineering firm G70, provided a presentation on the latest plans for the school located on 77 acres mauka of the intersection of Piilani Highway and Kulanihakoi Street.
The campus is divided into three tiers: athletic fields on the lower campus, gymnasium on the middle and academic buildings on the upper campus. Plans call for it to be built in phases, which began with its pre-phase of digging two potable water wells in 2016 — becoming the first Hawaii public school to dig its own wells, Kaneshiro said.
The first phase consists of the infrastructure, which includes all the pipes, roads and grading. Designs have been completed, and Goodfellow Bros. expects to begin work in the summer. The first phase is expected to take about a year and half to complete.
For phase two, legislators have secured $101 million in funding, which is enough to build at least one classroom structure, an administration building, a conjoined library and cafeteria, a physical education room, two parking lots, a clay court and temporary play field. State officials are nearly done with the second-phase design and plan to go out to bid between May and June, followed by permitting.
The second phase also could include a second classroom building and a student center portion of the administration building, Kaneshiro said. The school plans to have a capacity for about 1,650 students, with each classroom building accommodating 400 students.
“We’re strategically putting this out where it allows us as much flexibility to build as much as we can,” he said.
The third phase includes a gymnasium and other rooms for electives such as music, industrial arts, visual arts and digital arts. It also has outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, and a track and field.
Future phases call for building two more classroom structures; an open play field; baseball, soccer and softball fields; and bleachers. Funding has not yet been secured for the third and future phases.
The future school also was designed to be “net zero energy,” meaning it uses as much energy as it produces, which makes it arguably the most sustainably designed campus in the state, Kaneshiro said. He worked with one of the leaders in environmental energy modeling companies in the world to design the school to be as cool as possible and not need to rely on air conditioning.
He noted that classrooms, the cafeteria and other buildings will have air conditioning. Other features include a stormwater retention system that prevents the school from flooding by using a large retention basin at the bottom of the highway.
Parents expressed excitement with the plans, but they wondered whether their children would be able to attend the school by the time it opens.
Nick Nichols, DOE facilities planner, said the “definitive thought” is to open with 9th and 10th grades or possibly just the 9th grade. One of the reasons to do so is that juniors and seniors at other schools tend to stay where they are rather than transfer.
Dunnicliffe, who has a child in 7th grade at Lokelani Intermediate School and one who has already graduated from college, asked state officials to give their children the choice. She explained how many parents have been pushing the state over the years to open the South Maui high school, while being forced to send their kids elsewhere.
“My choice is to have my son go to the high school in the town he was born and raised in,” Dunnicliffe said. “Believe me, we have been so patient. We have had so many rallies and so many community meetings, and we’re begging you guys. This is great the DOE is having this meeting and we’re beyond ecstatic, but we’re begging you guys to start all grade levels. It’s not fair that we’ve been waiting this long.”
Some residents wondered whether officials could hit the projected fall 2021 opening date and asked if the state is ready to proceed with grading work.
Former South Maui County Council Member Don Couch, who serves as an executive assistant to Mayor Alan Arakawa, said after Thursday’s meeting that the project has been delayed five months due to an issue over the school’s water meter. He said the state Department of Transportation was unwilling to allow the digging of a trench to lay the pipe across Piilani Highway for the school project.
The county Department of Water Supply provided the state its comments on the issue in October, but it received a “fairly well-engineered answer” Thursday, he said.
“Everything else has been going smoothly,” Couch said. “We’ve cut out that sticking point and let them proceed with everything else. They’ve said they’re going to come and work with us and figure out how they can get a meter where we’re OK and they’re OK.
“It’s trying to get everybody on the same page, and everybody wants to be.”
Officials at the meeting also reassured parents that the project is on track to begin grading this summer and hit its opening date.
“I think it’s totally reasonable for a professional contractor to build this in 18 months,” Kaneshiro responded. “Although the design is quite unique and many firsts for the DOE, the construction methodology and techniques we’re using are standard and straightforward.
“This has already gone faster than some of my other projects, I’ll tell you that.”
Parents also expressed concerns about what electives and sports would be available to the first few classes of students. Department officials said it will be up to the principal, teachers and students of the school to decide how they will use campus buildings and school offerings.
Maui High School Principal Jamie Yap said Friday that he is unsure how many students from Kihei would go to the school considering the limited programs and facilities it will have when it opens. The Kahului school is counting on the South Maui campus to relieve its enrollment, which has surpassed 2,000 students and expects 640 freshmen in the fall.
In January, Maui High was forced to cut its day care and teen parents program for the coming school year to use the space as classrooms.
“If I have 600 freshmen coming in, let’s say a fourth or third of that is from Kihei, that’s a small impact on my school overall,” Yap said. “Over time, there will be, but not immediately.
“We’re bursting at seams right now, and we’re not getting any relief anytime soon.”
A final point parents asked the department was if funding might lapse due to delays. In 2011, nearly $20 million in funding had been allowed to lapse after the state Legislature had made multiple appropriations to the project for design, land acquisition and permits dating back to 2004.
Department officials said they plan to open the bid for construction of the school before June, thus securing the funding.
Kihei resident James Alger asked department officials if they could release their presentation and plans to the public so they can keep the state accountable and follow it more closely. He said he is regularly asked about whether the high school is going to open.
“Is it happening? That’s what they’re asking for,” Alger said. “Not hearsay from me. Get it out to the public because they don’t want to hear me anymore. I’ve been saying, ‘Yeah we’re getting a high school,’ for the last 10 years.”
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at email@example.com.
The House passed its version of the state budget last week. It needs to be reconciled in conference committee with the state Senate.
South Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing said the Legislature will have appropriated a total of $157 million in construction money since 2012 for the high school, if the Senate approves the $63 million.
“That is more than enough funds to build up the classrooms, gym, cafeteria and more,” said Ing.
He said the groundwork to dig wells and to construct an access road was completed in 2016. The next phase of site construction was awarded to Goodfellow Bros. and is slated to begin this year or early 2018.
The House also inserted $40 million for another phase of the Lahaina bypass that would take the road from North Keawe Street to Puukolii Road in Kaanapali. The money is for land acquisition and construction.
Other large CIP projects include:
* $18.3 million for a ferry pier at Lahaina Boat Harbor.
* $16 million for Hawaiian Home Lands Phase 2 (76 lots) at Keokea-Waiohuli.
* $12.3 million for an administration building at Waihee Elementary School.
* $7.2 million for Hana Highway bridge and roadway improvements.
* $7.8 million for Kaanapali Beach restoration and berm enhancement.
* $3.7 million for Hana Pier superstructure improvements.
* $3.7 million for Paia Bypass traffic improvements.]]>
KHAT Spokesperson Andrew Beerer’s comments on the article:
It is the first public statement I have seen from Kalbert Young, regarding this subject. His statement is curious, “the funding pieces don’t work well together”. Which begs the question, why weren’t the funding pieces directed better so they would work together? He also says that “in order to access the $100 million, the DOE would have to kill off another $100 million in other projects”. I was disappointed to hear this. That seems contrary to the notion that the $100 million in SEFI is earmarked specifically for KHS. State Sen. Roz Baker and State Rep. Kaniela Ing have been helpful and reassuring in explaining to us in detail that it couldn’t be spent on other projects.
Even my conversations with Duane Kashiwai and Ray L’Heureux did not allude to this. So I’m curious why the misunderstanding? Is Kalbert implying that the SEFI funds for KHS are going to be used for other projects? Or are his comments taken out of context? He seems to be saying more than they just weren’t willing to float more bonds.
It’s taken a couple months to get an official word from B&F and for a layman like me, it raises more questions than it answers.
The lack of communication from DOE leadership re: the $100 million has been more than disappointing. As a group we’ve tried to be diplomatic about this, but I think the press has astutely picked up on that and is now pushing for some accountability and understanding.
Despite many requests, we still have never heard from Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui on this subject, which has also been disappointing.
Moving forward, I wonder how he would could avoid this kind of miscommunication and forge a fail-proof plan to fund and build this school. We thought we had it.
One idea I had – would be a signed memorandum of understanding between all parties. It would be nice to know that all the branches were sticking to the same plan. We thought the extensive budget process, the EIS documents and hours of DOE testimony did equate to a memorandum of understanding. But clearly that was not the case, as the public is still looking for answers and solutions.
I was disappointed to find out that this is no longer the case. I have been informed by the DOE that the total funds are not available. $130 million was approved, however the executive branch has said that $100 million is unavailable due to a lack of a funding mechanism. In the thirteenth hour, the project has now been changed to a traditional design-bid-build, built and funded in incremental phases with multiple contractors. Adding to the cost and delaying the school opening. The DOE confirms there is $30 million available, to be used for a first phase contract to provide for basic site work, infrastructure and utilities. This contract is expected to go to bid in spring of 2015. There no longer is a timeline on when the school will open.
Please attend the September 16 Kihei Community Association meeting where representatives from the DOE and local legislators will update “the plan for Kihei high school”.
Andrew Beerer, Board Member
Kihei Community Association]]>
We understand to date:
* HD-1 appropriated $65 million this past legislative session;
* The $65 million appropriation was subsequently reduced to a $30 million appropriation;
* A portion of the $130 million needed for KHS comes from the SEFI special projects fund via Ways and Means. The special projects fund currently contains around $100 million. SEFI will be dissolved once the funds are expended.
KHAT’s questions are:
- From which specific State Departments will the total $130 million in funds be appropriated?
- How much from the SEFI fund is appropriated for KHS?
- How does our community confirm a plan for the Kihei High School’s first phase and funding?
- Can our community proceed with the design-build concept? Or are the construction plans taking on a new life as a traditional DOE financing concept?
KHAT will draft letters to State Officials regarding our specific questions above.
Andrew Beerer will place a telephone call to Nick Nichols, Facilities Dept at the DOE and confirm the $30 first-phase appropriation (or is it “authorization”).
KHAT requests a collaborative plan between Mr. Nichols, Lt.. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Blake Oshiro and the Governor’s Maui Representative JoAnn Inamasu by the end of July, 2014. The KHS topic is tentatively scheduled for the September, 2014 Kihei Community Association’s general membership meeting.
Hawai’i’s Primary election date is August 9, 2014 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
Hawai’i’s General election date is November 4, 2014 7:00 am – 6:00 pm