Divided Nanakuli campus up for debate
Worried about young students sharing a campus with teenagers, parents and education officials are considering splitting up Nanakuli High and Intermediate School.
"I think it would be good," said Patty Teruya, chairwoman of the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board. "At intermediate, the kids are just out of sixth grade. It's kind of like a culture shock."
Concerns about the safety of Nanakuli seventh- and eight-graders grew this year following the arrests of 11 high school students during a fight on campus and the alleged rape of another student outside the schools' gymnasium, said state Rep. Karen Awana, who represents the area.
HEARING BOTH SIDES
What: Community meeting to discuss whether Nanakuli High and Intermediate School should be divided into two campuses
When: Tomorrow from 6 to 8 p.m. at the school's multipurpose room, 89-980 Nanakuli Ave.
"We need to address the public safety issues," said Awana (R, Kalaeloa-Nanakuli).
The school will start a two-hour meeting at 6 p.m. tomorrow to discuss whether the 350 intermediate students should be separated from some 790 high schoolers. The Board of Education asked for the meeting a few weeks ago after hearing from parents of Nanakuli students who are pushing for the change.
"What you will hear often is like a senior dating a sixth-grader. They always use extreme examples like that," said school board Chairwoman Karen Knudsen. The meeting, she added, is "to make sure we weren't just hearing from one faction, which so often is the case."
While proponents have suggested changing bell schedules and even erecting a fence to separate the schools, Principal Levi Chang said the school would favor building a new campus for the intermediate students.
"The ideal scenario for me would be if we could find some land and put the middle school down by Farrington Highway," he said. "But with money and land as it is, I don't know if that would come about."
The state Department of Education is studying the costs and feasibility of dividing the school. Relocating the intermediate students to a new site would be more expensive because new administrators and staff would need to be hired, said Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen.
Nanakuli is just one of six high schools statewide that still share cafeteria, athletic facilities and library with intermediate students, according to the department. The last public school to be split was the former Molokai High and Intermediate School.
Starting in the 2004-05 school year, an "imaginary line" established between that school's cafeteria and library limited access to the upper campus to seventh- and eight-graders, said Molokai Intermediate Principal Gary Zukeran.