Aloha Friends of Alaka’i O Kaua’i,
Our governing board has been very busy creating proposals for and having meetings with both county and state leaders. We are asking for help in securing a location, either temporary or permanent. We have been successful in getting some support in our search. We are also following leads obtained from these meetings, and we know that we really do need to get a site secured as soon as we can. Everything rests on this major piece of our puzzle and it is our main focus currently. For if we are successful, there will still be a long process to approve a site for school use as well as continue to meet the assurances required by the Hawaii State Charter Commission who has given us a deadline of December 15th for submission of a lease for our school site.
Mahalo nui loa to the Governor’s office liaison Carrice Gardner, State Department of Land and Natural Resources Wesley Matsunaga, State Representative Nadine Nakamura, State Senator and Senate President Ron Kouchi, and County Councilman Mason Chock. We really appreciate the time they took to listen, speak with, and advise us. Also, mahalo to Ka`aina Hull in the County Planning Department who has been a great help.
At this point we know using state land as well as county land is not a possibility for us to open in 2018. The required Environmental Impact Study alone for either state or county land is a long and expensive process that could take up to 2 years and $60,000. Therefore, in order to open in 2018 we will need either a privately owned property that we can lease or private property that is donated to us.
The Good News: We are in the process of proposing to two locations in Kapa`a. The first is an old school building that is mostly unused and that we hope to occupy when we open until we establish a permanent location. The second is vacant land that would require buying or leasing portable classrooms. We know that once we get open, build our community and establish our successful track record, then we are eligible for grants and other support that can help toward building our own school.
Another great connection we have made is with the country’s leading education investment group, EPR Properties, that helps charter schools establish facilities. Mahalo to Kurt Last who helped connect us and hosted our meeting at his office in Kapa`a. Since we are opening small with 165 students, which means a smaller budget (especially with the inequitable per-pupil funding Hawaii currently gives charter schools), an investment with us is not viable at this time. However, it may be possible in the future as we grow. It is interesting to know how charter school laws and support vary from state to state. Hawaii still has a long way to go towards understanding and offering support for our charter schools, rather than the current political views of seeing them as a burden on the state budget or negatively impacting DOE schools.
Do you know of any potential school sites or have specific contact information for land owners who may be willing to lease their land temporarily or indefinitely? Do you have connections to Bette Midler or her associates regarding her Kapa`a properties?
Wherever we are welcome to land, our immediate next step will be the County permitting process. We would appreciate the aide of a land use attorney or planning consultant through this process to help it flow as smoothly and quickly as possible. Do you know of either whom you can recommend to us? Please send us their names!!
A school cannot exist without the children and families it serves. As a governing board of just 7 volunteers, we cannot do it all. We need your help. If you feel our school is worth fighting for and could be your child’s school; if you want leading edge alternative education for our community; and if you see the benefit of giving back to our island home; then we have a place and a community for you to join. This must be a community effort!
Not only are we looking for governing board members, board committee members, and event or project help, but we are also needing to form a separate Non-Profit organization. Please consider how you can be of service and spread the word to others you know.
Thanks to Brittany Steinbeck for her incredible help in cleaning and organizing our storage shed!
Some of our Governing Board members attended a board training workshop hosted by the Charter School Network of Hawaii, a non-profit organization working on behalf of the state’s charter schools. The workshop was helpful and informative as we learned more about best practices. Thanks also to Kawaikini Charter School for the use of their classroom for the workshop.
Board Chair DrB and Ann Keeler, an educator on our advisory board, attended the Charter Commission’s Educational Summit in Oahu on June 27th. It was a very informative and worthwhile event.
At that time, DrB also attended the recent State Charter Commission Board meeting where they voted on us to proceed with the new assurances for 2018.
Another BIG “Thank you!” to Kapa’a Print, Ship, and Storage for donating a storage unit to us! If you have any useful school materials, we are happy to accept your donations!
Mahalo, Kaua’i United Church of Christ, whose retired school had supplies to pass on to us.
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Project Based Learning at Home
This month inspire your child by asking them to take over as chef for a dinner! While your child takes the lead by creating a meal plan, finding recipes, and writing the grocery list on their own, you can teach them about healthy and balanced eating. Then do the shopping together and, depending on age, one of you be the sous-chef and create the meal together! Post your pictures and tag us on facebook! More PBL ideas can be found here.