By PAUL C. CURTIS – TGI Staff Writer
Kahili Adventist School will survive, well into the future, offering grades kindergarten through 12, with or without a subsidy from adjacent Kahili Mountain Park, the school principal declared Friday.
Dr. Don Weatherall, principal, has in hand a balanced budget approved by both the island and statewide Adventist school boards, a financial plan for the 2002-03 school year that doesn’t raise tuition, doesn’t cut any grades or teacher positions, and doesn’t depend on any subsidy from the park.
The park subsidy, revenues from the Hawaii Conference of Seventh-day Adventists’ ownership and operation of the cabin-rental business, came to a screeching halt earlier this year in a dispute about whether or not the church lease with the Knudsen family permits commercial activities.
The church argues the lease doesn’t preclude commercial activity, and that a former trustee, the late Valdemar Knudsen, knew about the church buying the park cabins the same year the 60-year lease was signed, in 1985.
Current trustee Stacey T.J. Wong said the lease specifically prohibits commercial activity, and he finds nothing in writing in the lease file either to or from Knudsen indicating he either had knowledge of or approved of the church operating Kahili Mountain Park.
Attorneys for both sides continue negotiating toward an out-of-court solution, but operations at the park have ceased, leading to the eviction of some long-term renters who are or were Kaua’i residents.
The park provided around $100,000 a year to the school, allowing the school to keep tuition low.
A recent story about the situation at the park left some readers with the idea that the school may be forced to close its high school program after the 2002-03 school year, Weatherall said.
He emphasized that this is not the case, and that if a balanced budget can be achieved for the 2002-03 school year without the park subsidy, it can be achieved in years to come, also without the park subsidy.
“Kahili’s future is bright, and we are encouraged. We want to serve the people of Kaua’i who are looking for a school where students receive more individualized instruction, a spiritual emphasis, and a program that serves their needs,” Weatherall said.
“Our board is looking at a K-12 program for many years to come,” he continued.
The 2002-03 budget was built assuming fewer students will attend than are currently at the school, and “staff members want this program to succeed to the point that they are willing to freeze their salaries” to save the school money, he said.
Weatherall said a combination of experienced, qualified and capable teachers, strong scholastic and technology programs, and the introduction of a preschool, have led to an increased number of parents calling the school to inquire about the 2002-03 school year.
“These attributes and interest will result in a larger enrollment,” Weatherall feels.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).