Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Kamehameha Schools
aims to help more kids

The trustees propose starting needs-based
early childhood education programs

By Debra Barayuga

Kamehameha Schools is seeking to help more Hawaiian children outside the Kapalama campus by expanding its early childhood education programs.

In documents filed yesterday in Probate Court, the Kamehameha Schools trustees proposed developing needs-based early education scholarships, providing education and counseling services to families with children up to 2 years old, and opening preschool programs in the public schools.

"We believe it will work. The trustees believe it will work," Hamilton McCubbin, chief executive of Kamehameha Schools, said this morning.

The programs involve public and private partnerships that target children of Hawaiian ancestry from financially needy and at-risk families, who live in areas with high concentrations of Hawaiians that are not served by existing Kamehameha Schools preschool programs or the federal Head Start programs.

Under the estate's proposals, early education scholarships will be provided to students who attend preschool programs approved by Kamehameha Schools, including those accredited by the National Association for Education of Young Children.

The Family Educational Services Program emphasizes the importance of providing appropriate environments for early childhood development. Kamehameha Schools staff or other qualified providers will make home visits, provide community workshops, training and materials, and counseling to families with children up to 2 years old.

The Pre-Plus program will provide more preschool programs for needy children in public schools with the help of public and private partnerships.

Kamehameha Schools' new programs were designed to implement goals in the estate's Strategic Plan.

Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who died in October 1884, created a charitable trust to establish Kamehameha Schools and directed trustees to provide instruction and training "to make good and industrious men and women."

Providing that education does not begin or end with kindergarten to 12th grade or post-high school, the trustees noted. Early childhood education is "crucial to a child's educational well-being, and that benefit will enhance students' abilities to become 'good and industrious men and women,' " the trustees wrote.

The trustees noted that a Circuit Court ruling in 1962 gives them the authority to establish educational programs. The courts found that many of the children Bishop wished to help were not benefiting through Kamehameha Schools. The court also found that nothing in her will forbids education of students outside the Kapalama campus, nor limits the age of those who benefit to minors.

A hearing on the trustees' petition has been set for Feb. 8. The court oversees the administration of the princess' will.

The estate's plans also include a component for kindergarten-through-12 education, in partnership with public schools. The estate hopes to help fund some existing public schools in communities with a high population of native Hawaiian children. Kauai is likely to be the first island to benefit, McCubbin said.

Star-Bulletin reporter Crystal Kua
contributed to this report.

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