Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Schools planning
sessions get
public input

Thoughts are offered on
the educational needs
among Hawaiians today

By Lori Tighe


Although court-ordered, Kamehameha Schools' strategic planning sessions that ask for public direction about their future are turning out to be therapeutic for the community.

"It's good PR for Bishop Estate," said Gary Taketa at last night's session at Castle High School in Kaneohe, which drew about 75 people. "We have lost sight of the kids benefiting."

The insurance salesman, who went to college on a Bishop Estate scholarship, hopes to get his three children into Kamehameha.

"I wanted to see if I could take part and share a little in the direction of Kamehameha Schools' future," Taketa said.

The Hawaiian schools have been derailed by the Bishop Estate trustees' alleged corruption, and the strategic plan is designed to place the schools back on track.

Part of the agreement with the courts was to develop the strategic plan with input from the Hawaiian community, said Nathan Aipa, chief operating officer for Kamehameha Schools.

The yearlong process began last October and will provide the schools' vision, peering as far as 15 years into the future.

"We can grow; we can do more," said Neil Hannahs, director of rural Oahu and off-island lands for Kamehameha Schools.

At the sessions held around the state -- 23 are scheduled -- Hawaiian community members offer thoughts on the educational needs among Hawaiians today, the strengths of the Hawaiian community and what Kamehameha Schools' role is in addressing those needs.

Participants at last night's meeting wanted more preschool and adult education, more tutoring, and students' reading skills sharpened.

Al Lewis asked Kamehameha Schools to offer reading programs to struggling Waimanalo public school students.

"If they're not functioning, they tend to drop out," he said. "I believe it's because they can't read."

John Fox wanted Kamehameha Schools to define the beneficiaries of Bishop Estate and to publish a prospectus on how it's doing.

"Let's make this like a business to keep everyone informed," Fox said.

And Calvin Hoe said a primary strength of the Hawaiian community is ohana. "We're family. We have to work it out because we're all related."

At the session's end, Hannahs said, "What we're hearing is, 'No matter all the bad, we still have a lot of aloha for you guys.'"

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