Land swap plan could aid Kahuku High School
Flood mitigation and campus expansion are among DOE goals
KAHUKU HIGH and Intermediate School's days of flooding problems could be numbered under a plan that would move instructional buildings to higher ground nearby and expand the campus by 23 acres.
Department of Education officials said yesterday they will recommend that the state take steps to acquire the necessary land adjacent to the current campus.
The plan has been on the wish lists of the DOE and the Kahuku community for some time, gaining new life with a recent land swap proposal involving Hawaii Baptist Academy.
The department had initially identified Kaaawa Elementary School, located in a tsunami inundation zone, as another possible beneficiary of the land swap, but decided in favor of the much larger Kahuku school.
"We're recommending (Kahuku) because more students would be served," Rae Loui, assistant superintendent for business services, told a Board of Education committee yesterday.
HBA leases some state land for its Nuuanu middle and high schools, but the private college prep school wants to acquire that land, which has an assessed land value of $3 million, Loui said.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources has proposed that HBA buy property of equal value elsewhere on Oahu and exchange it for its current site. DLNR has asked the school system to identify lands for HBA to buy that could be put to school use.
Education Department officials say the Estate of James Campbell is interested in selling a contiguous 58-acre parcel next to the Kahuku school, but many hurdles remain.
The department only needs 22.8 acres for its plans there, which would mean the remainder would have to be subdivided and disposed of by the state, Loui said.
Moreover, it is unclear whether $3 million would cover the cost of the lands.
According to property tax records, the assessed value of the 58 acres is just $1.78 million, but it is possible the Campbell Estate could get more in today's market, Loui said.
Campbell Estate officials could not be reached yesterday.
The department will send its recommendation to DLNR, which will begin due diligence on the proposed purchase.
Enrollment played a factor in the department's choice. Kahuku High and Intermediate is about 300 students over its 1,551-student capacity, whereas Kaaawa's 147 students put it slightly under capacity.
Enrollment at both schools is forecast to decline, but greater residential development potential exists in Kahuku, which could shore up future enrollment.
The department had considered moving Kaaawa Elementary inland to a 12-acre site now owned by Kualoa Ranch.
As recently as last October, flooding caused by heavy rains forced the temporary closure of Kahuku High and Intermediate. The department's plans would move many instructional buildings to higher ground under a project expected to cost between $116 million and $148 million.