Alaka’i O Kaua’i Public Charter School needs a home. Let’s help find it.
The school, on its third try, was unanimously approved by the Hawaii State Charter School Commission in August. It will be a benefit for education on Kauai. Those behind the charter school, led by the enthusiasm and endless energy of Kani Blackwell, known as Dr. B., deserve praise for their dedication and passion toward education. Has anyone ever met Dr. B and not come away with a smile and feeling better for the day?
Here’s how Dr. B describes Alaka’i O Kaua’i Public Charter School. “Our school, inspired by the success of iLEAD School Development, will nurture our future leaders to think, to problem solve, to communicate, to create and to collaborate for solutions that will provide the blueprint for the world of tomorrow.”
It will provide, she says, innovative ways to learn.
It will be a free for Kauai keiki; an additional choice for Department of Education schools. The plan is for it to open in August 2017 to 165 students grades K-4.
It took a ton of preparation and planning to get this point.
The seven-member governing board includes a businessman and a certified personal accountant. School officials also sought advice from a former charter school principal and a former executive director from the Charter School Network.
Catherine Payne, chair of the Public Charter School Commission, said the commission noted the team’s persistence.
“They took suggestions well, and each year, their plans changed,” she said. “This year, it was really outstanding.”
What impressed Payne the most was that the school was planned with Kauai in mind.
“They moved from looking at a Mainland operator to growing something particular to Kauai that will benefit the children there,” she said. “It’s much better to grow something that meets the community’s needs, rather than bringing something from the outside.”
The school still faces challenges.
Annual operating costs are projected to be in excess of $1 million. While much of that will come from the state, Alaka’i O Kaua’i Public Charter School will still need to do substantial fundraising.
But before any of that happens, the school needs land for a home. Blackwell isn’t shy about asking for help and we encourage anyone who can, to do just that.
Plans to have their home at Mount Kahili Park fell through. They would love to find a location in or near Kapaa, where many families live that would place their children in the school. If a private landowner or a public agency has such land, we encourage them to contact Dr. B. While land is expensive, especially on Kauai, offering five to 20 acres toward a public charter school that will help our students become their best would have lasting impacts and change lives.
Right now, Dr. B and friends are reaching out to the public and private parties to help them in their dream to open a new school. This is new territory for her. She’s a longtime educator, and as she notes, not used to navigating politics, real estate and land development. We give her all the credit in the world for leading the charge and being willing to learn something new, too. And we hope that one day, soon, we can write the headline, “Alaka’i Finds a Home!” Yep, with a slammer.
Dr. B said they will “set up yurts, portables, whatever, because it is not the walls that will define our school, it will be the learners inside and the facilitators enabling their learning.”
Well said. Now, let’s make this happen.