Kohala should remain open, report finds


POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010

Keeping Kohala Middle School open makes more sense than shutting it down and moving its students to the high and elementary school, according to a draft report by a task force.

The public will have a chance to give their opinions at a public hearing on Thursday at 6 p.m., at the Kohala High School cafeteria. The Kohala Complex Schools Task Force recently completed its draft report analyzing the pros and cons of shutting the middle school, and found many more reasons to keep it open than to close it.

“;I think the task force committee did a superb job at looking at all of the quantitative data that's available—academic performance, facilities usage, R&M costs,”; said Art Souza, complex-area superintendent for West Hawaii. “;It was a very, very thorough study on the operational as well as the emotional and academic impact of consolidating the schools.”;

The state is considering closing some public schools to save money. Wailupe Valley school was shut down last summer and its students transferred to Aina Haina Elementary. A task force there determined that it cost more than twice as much per child to educate a student at Wailupe as at nearby Aina Haina, although students at Aina Haina had higher test scores and more course selection and extracurricular activities.






Public meeting on proposal to close Kohala Middle School:


» Time: 6 p.m. Thursday
        » Place: Kohala High School cafeteria, 54-3611 Akoni Pule Highway




The Kohala task force, on the other hand, found the cost per student was roughly the same at the middle and high school, and that middle school students benefit socially and academically from having their own campus. Kohala High and Elementary do not have room for the middle school students, so 10 more classrooms would need to be created, it said.

“;The consensus of the Task Force is that there are multiple compelling reasons why keeping the middle school at the Halalula campus away from the high school is advised and most appropriate for youth in this community,”; the draft report concluded.

Souza encouraged public input on the draft report. “;Schools do not function as independent entities; they are hearts of the community,”; he said. “;The community perception of what the schools are doing has to be included in any study.”;

The task force report is available on the Department of Education's Web site. Testimony may be submitted at the public hearing; mailed to the DOE West Hawaii Complex Office, 75-140 Hualalai Road, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740; or e-mailed to Randee Golden at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).