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Monday, March 12, 2001


UH Lab School could
shut down if buildings,
maintenance are lost

By Treena Shapiro

When the University of Hawaii Laboratory School was asked to become self-sufficient two years ago, alumni and students' parents rallied to support the experimental school, making up in donations the $700,000 taken from the school's funding last year.

School administrators expect that next year, when the university no longer provides any of the more than $1 million needed to run the school, donations will cover all the operating expenses, such as teacher salaries, equipment, supplies, phone bills and travel expenses.

But Arthur King, director of the university's Curriculum Research Development Group that runs the school, said even this may not be enough to save the school.

"We've pretty much been able to take care of the loss of funding," he said. However, the school still relies on the university to supply the buildings, maintenance and infrastructure of the school, which is next to the UH College of Education. "If they continue to supply the facilities, that will be a lot easier on us."

The director of the UH group that runs
the school said he's particularly excited his group
has been recognized as a national leader in
curriculum research and development.
It has received a grant to work
with a Russian university.

The school has developed curricula used locally, on the mainland and in other countries. But in recent years the governor has suggested closing the school to cut costs, and the university's president and Board of Regents have been studying the school, whose value is in question, Young said. "I know discussions are under way, but we have no report on what's happening."

King said the school is sort of like a laboratory for scientific enterprise, where inventors test innovative teaching strategies on a controlled classroom population. The school has become nationally and internationally visible through curricula and textbooks created on the campus. King said he's particularly excited that his group has been recognized as a national leader in curriculum research and development and has been given a grant to redevelop material on elementary school math in cooperation with a Russian university.

In the short term, King and Lab School principal Loretta Krause say the school will stay open through the next academic year; they were interviewing parents of prospective students last week.

None expressed any worry that the school would close, Krause said. "I had no parent come up and say they were reluctant to send their children there. I think they know what the curriculum is and value that curriculum."

As for herself, Krause said, "I continue to be a perpetual optimist." Although none of the funding for next year is in place, "I don't want anybody to to get the idea that we're closing down," she added.

"We faced the same problem this year and kept the good thoughts that all would work out," she said. "Our motto is, the difficult we do right now, the impossible takes a little bit longer."

The school, which received almost $6 million in grants this year, has been trying to tap into even more. Krause said they have also applied to become a charter school under the state Department of Education, another potential source of funding.

So far, operational support for the school has come mostly in donations from alumni and parents who are asked to pay $4,000 a year.

The school's students reflect Hawaii's population, in terms of ethnicity and socio-economic status, and as a result, not all can afford the full donation.

But Krause said the majority of parents came through when she asked them to "look into your heart and into your pocketbook and help your school as much as you can."

Ka Leo O Hawaii
University of Hawaii

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