Charter school still seeking land

KAPAA — Alakai O Kauai Public Charter School still needs a home.

While the school was unanimously approved by the Hawaii State Charter School Commission in August, it still needs land and a building.

Kani “DrB” Blackwell, acting chair, is considering all options, including yurts and portables, instead of the usual brick and mortar school buildings, Blackwell said.

But green space is a must, she said.

“We want an area where children can play, explore nature, be outside for part of the day and grow a garden,” she said.

The Hawaii State Charter School Commission gave Alakai O Kauai Public Charter School two years to build a school. But Blackwell hopes to open the doors in 2017.

“If we need that time, we would have it. But I know we’re going to open in August 2017,” she said. “We have waited too long as it is. Our kids are growing up. They need this school.”

School officials were in negotiations with Knudsen Trust for Mount Kahili Park in Koloa, but that land is no longer an option, she said.

Ideal land would be between five and 20 acres and in Kapaa, she added. An option is a piece of land on Kawaihau Road, near Mahelona hospital.

“My husband and I visited the site (Sunday), and I really like the site,” she said. “I think this place excites me because it is in poor condition, and we could bring it back to life with young, vibrant learners.”

Earlier this month, Felicia Cowden, who serves on the advisory board, said another possible location for the school is in the North Shore.

Alakai O Kauai Public Charter School promotes creative problem solving and collaboration, Blackwell added.

The school will offer grades kindergarten through fourth grade. Officials hope to grow to 360 students in 10 years.

Operating costs for 2017 are estimated to be $1.3 million. While most of that will come from state funding, the school will have to raise about $250,000.

About 50 students have signed up for intent to enroll, Blackwell said.

“We don’t want to start enrollment, and then families find they cannot attend, so we are putting our priority on finding a location,” she said.

Until then, Blackwell hopes someone will donate property.

“Please think of investing in the future,” she said. “Our keiki will be the leaders, the farmers, the thinkers for navigating the 21st century in a global economy that we cannot even define.”

The board plans to continue its search for land until they find a home. Blackwell is confident it will happen.

“But that won’t be necessary, I know,” she said.


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