Island School plans expansion

PUHI — A private school in Puhi recently applied to have its state land use designation changed from an agriculture district to an urban district for future expansion.

“It’s a change to better reflect what we’re doing,” said David Pratt, Island School Board of Directors vice president and chair of development. “We do have small gardens, but we’re not in the farming business; we’re in the school business and we’ve been here for 25 years now.”

Pratt said the general plan designation for the Island School property classifies it as an urban center, and the application filed by the school in May is proposing to conform the state land use designation with the general plan designation.

Island School’s property is currently 38.4 acres, but 15 of its acres are developed. Because the Puhi school plans to expand development by over 15 acres, Kaaina Hull, Kauai County Planning Department deputy director, said the school’s application will be reviewed by the State Land Use Commission for final approval.

“The current law allows you to utilize 15 acres with a county permit,” Pratt said. “We’re slowly growing more students and need more classrooms over time.”

New buildings in the Island School 50-year master plan include a two-story classroom building, which houses six classrooms, one lecture room and one small seminar room faculty office; a two-story science building with three classrooms, three science rooms, one workshop, one small seminar room and one informal gathering room; and a two-story campus center with a library, two computer rooms, learning center, bookstore and student center.

“We have a master plan for the future that includes all our ideas of what we would like to have, but it depends on finances and funding,” Pratt said. “Over time, you change your mind or the way of delivering education maybe changes. Things change over time.”

Similar to a working document, the master plan is subject to change.

“We are in the process of re-engaging in conversations about what changes we could make about the master plan in the event an opportunity comes before us,” said Sean Magoun, Island School director of institutional advancement.

Island School opened its doors in 1977 to 12 students in Kealia. Fourteen years later, the school moved to its Puhi location, starting off with 10 acres. Since then, Island School purchased 20 acres from Kauai Plantation and later 8.4 acres from Grove Farm.

The Puhi private school has a student enrollment of about 390, Magoun said.

Public testimony for the land use designation change will be accepted at a hearing in August, officials with the State Land Use Commission said.

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