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Possible Kihei high school on agenda


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POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

KIHEI, Maui » Andrew Beerer said he is hoping his two children will be able to attend a proposed high school in Kihei and avoid the problems facing other students now commuting more than eight miles to other schools.

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“;It's seems particularly difficult to schedule extracurricular activities,”; he said. “;I think extracurricular activities are very important. They're going to be learning teamwork and other social skills.”;

The state Department of Education is meeting with other state officials today to seek tentative approval to acquire private land to develop Kihei High School.

The meeting takes place at 9 a.m. in Honolulu at the Kalanimoku Building before the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the agency in charge of processing private-land acquisitions for the Education Department.

The proposed school would be located on about 77 acres of land on the north side of the Silversword Golf Course, mauka of Piilani Highway and Piilani Village. The lands are owned by Kaonoulu Ranch and Haleakala Ranch.

The proposed school will be built to initially accommodate up to 1,000 students and provide for eventual expansion for up to 1,650 students.

The South Maui area, with an estimated resident population of 25,000, is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state. Some 674 South Maui students now attend Maui High School and Baldwin High School.

Jon Miller, president of the Kihei Community Association, said his group supports the high school at the proposed site or sites previously reviewed by the Education Department.

“;We just want to make sure it gets built,”; Miller said.

He said there are many Kihei residents with children currently in elementary schools.

“;They're hoping by the time their kids are in high school, they'll be able to stay in Kihei,”; he said.

Eugene Kennedy, the registrar at Maui High School, said that when King Kekaulike High School opened in the 1990s, it had an enrollment of 1,300 students.

Kennedy said he feels that at this time the number of students in South Maui is too low to justify building a high school.

“;I just can't see it,”; he said.

Miller and Beerer said the high school in Kihei would help to instill a sense of community in South Maui.

“;You kind of miss the community aspect because the kids are spread out over so many schools,”; Beerer said. “;It really kind of dilutes the cohesion of the community.”;