A sunny day for charter school

LIHUE — Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha, a Hawaiian language charter school on Kauai’s Westside, will soon be powered by the sun.

The school’s nonprofit organization, Aha Punana Leo, recently received a $180,060 capital improvement grant to plan, design and construct a new 30-kilowatt photovoltaic system at the school.

“It’s huge,” said Haunani Seward, director of Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha. “It’s just huge, only because we’re the smallest charter school in the state.”

The money is part of $18.7 million released last week by Gov. Neil Abercrombie for priority repairs and improvements at state facilities and public schools.

“Our economy is getting stronger, and capital improvement projects are key to maintaining our positive momentum while enriching state services, improving public areas and enhancing learning environments throughout Hawaii,” Abercrombie said in a release.

Once installed, the new system will save the school about $23,000 per year on utilities, according to Seward. That money will be put back into the school’s budget and used for student services, she said.

“We applied for it. It’s been almost two years and now the money is starting to be released,” she said. “We’re very pleased.”

Seward gave credit Sen. Ron Kouchi and Reps. Dee Morikawa and James Tokioka. “Without their help, this would not have happened,” she said.

Morikawa said the grant is a “big deal” for the school as well as the island of Kauai.

“It’s great because it’s going to save the school a lot of money,” she said. “Whenever we can get money for a nonprofit it’s a good thing.”

Kouchi agreed and said the funds will have a “huge impact” on the students at Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha.

“One way to help get more money back to students is by reducing (the school’s) operational costs,” he said. Ke Kula Niihau O Kekaha is a K-12 Niihau language school located in Kekaha.


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