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Charter school decision expected in August

LIHUE — ILEAD Charter School co-organizer Deena Fontana Moraes and supporters made their case before the Hawaii State Charter School Commission on Friday.

“We very clearly communicated to Honolulu that we want this school,” Moraes said. “I think seeing that for the commission made it a little more real.”

The Thursday meeting allowed 14 people to voice their opinions about why or why not the school iLEAD Alakai O Kauai should be established on the island. Several local officials also sent letters in support of the school.

“We were so honored and blessed to have our superintendent of schools Mr. Bill Arakaki there as well to show his support and make sure the community and people who are making the decision know that Kauai really wants this school,” Moraes said.

The commission is expect to issue a decision on whether the international Leadership Entrepreneurial Development Arts Design should receive a charter on Aug. 13. If approved, the facility could open its doors in August 2016. If it is denied, as it was in 2014, Moraes said they are looking at establishing the facility as a private school.

Operating costs are estimated at $1.6 million for 2016-17 and $2.1 million for 2017-18, according to the original application. Moraes said she and others hope to raise $100,000 through fundraising, grants and partnerships with businesses before the first year the school is established to cover start-up costs.

The charter school would be free and publicly funded, Moraes said. Organizers hope to find a location for the school in the Kapaa area. The goal is to open to students grade K-8, and eventually expand to high school.

“Our heart is being able to offer this to all children on the island of Kauai” Moraes said. “I was born and raised here. This is the soil in my bones and the blood in my veins. This is my home and I’m very excited to be able to build a school here.”

Dr. Kani Blackwell has been working with Moraes on the project.

“To see a school making a transition to the way school’s should be taught thrilled me,” Blackwell said. “Deena’s a very persuasive person, her heart’s in the right person.”

Moraes, a Kauai High School graduate, said she respects Kauai’s public educational system but believes there should be more options for different models of learning. The iLEAD school’s mission is grounded in a project- based learning method that includes environmental consciousness and personalized learning.

“We’re not proposing on doing things better, we’re just proposing on doing things differently so we can fit a need,” Moraes said.

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