By Wendy Osher
Maui broke ground today on a new $37.1 million elementary school that will serve the growing Central Maui community of Wailuku.
Pu’u Kukui Elementary School, which is roughly translated as “Hill of Enlightenment” is expected to accommodate an estimated 550 students in grades K-5.
The 98,562 square-foot facility will sit on 14 acres of land provided by Kehalani Mauka, LLC, and is scheduled for completion by Aug. 29, 2012.
During today’s ceremony, Governor Neil Abercrombie emphasized his commitment to education and the critical role of Hawai’i’s keiki.
“Two of our most important goals right now are to grow jobs in our economy and invest in young people,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “By building a 21st Century campus at Pu’u Kukui Elementary, we will be doing both. Our administration is investing our dollars into putting our children first,” he said.
Senate President Shan Tsutsui of Maui took a moment to thank the late Rep. Bob Nakasone who was among those who worked to secure a $14 million appropriation during the 2007 legislative session to plan, design and construct the new school.
“It was his (Nakasone’s) vision, his commitment to public education and really supporting our keiki, that drove projects like this back to our community here on Maui,” said Sen. Pres. Tsutsui.
Tsutsui said the project will bring hundreds of much needed jobs to the island of Maui for the next several months. He said over the long term, it will result in a positive impact not only on the surrounding community here, but for neighboring schools as well.
“We need to not only treat this as a new building, but as a building block on a different way to deliver education, so that the rest of the state can follow us,” said Wesley Lo, the Department of Education Representative for Maui.
The governor expressed a similar sentiment saying, “We’ve got to recognize what’s happening across the state, but particularly on Maui. It’s so exciting to be on Maui. You can see change–you don’t have to talk about it–you can see the change that’s in the air,” said Abercrombie.
“It’s clear to me that as far as Maui is concerned and perhaps symbolically for the whole state, this is a new start. This is a new day,” he said.
The campus will consist of eight buildings and a covered play court. Buildings include four classroom structures, an administration builidng, a library/media center, and a student center.
The Department of Education will also seek LEED (Leadership in energy and Environmental Design) Silver Project certification. Under the designation, the school will be fitted with an air conditioning commissioning program, and natural day lighting design for energy conservation.
“This school, this commitment, is an investment in our young people,” said Gov. Abercrombie, “and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
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