Ask the Mayor: “Pono Choices” Sex-Ed for High Pregnancy, STD
The mayor answers questions from the public in this series.
By Mayor Alan Arakawa
Q: Will the road improvements you mentioned in your State of the County address, specifically Hansen and Kokomo, have bike lanes? Cycling on Maui has become a main reason for many visitors to come to Maui. As a resident cyclist for 24 years, I hope bike lanes will be added to these two roads, especially Hansen Road, as it is the gateway to Upcountry and the North Shore from South and West Maui.
A: In short: “Yes” on Hansen, and “Not Yet” on Kokomo. Our Department of Public Works looks for opportunities to make roads safer, provide for more multimodal transportation options and create “Complete Streets” when they embark on new projects, such as Hansen Road and Kokomo Road. Public Works researched existing State and County plans for pedestrian and bicycle paths, and found that Bike Plan Hawaii calls for Proposed Sign Shared Roadway for the entire length of Kokomo Road, and Hansen Road from Pulehu Road to Hana Highway.
We plan to include bike routes on both sides of Hansen Road for the entire length of our project (Spanish Road to the vicinity of Hana Highway) by making improvements to accommodate bike routes within the right of way; these improvements can be incorporated into the plans for reconstruction without having to change the scope of work too much. Engineering staff also researched the feasibility of four-foot shoulders on Kokomo Road for bike routes on one or both sides, but either scenario would drastically change the scope of work, increase construction costs and delay the start of work.
The issues that complicate matters include significant embankments requiring grading work; long stretches of retaining walls; and fire hydrants, standpipes and power poles that would need to be relocated. This does not mean that we cannot install bike routes in the future: We do have the option of creating a separate bike route project on Kokomo Road that could also qualify for federal funds.
Q: As the mayor of our county, I am sure that you are concerned about our keiki. Have you reviewed the “Pono Choices” curriculum? What are your thoughts on it? Is there a pathway for parent involvement, information or the right to not participate? I am a concerned grandmother of 10 grandchildren. Thank you. I know the DOE is a state department, but I thought that hopefully, your voice and concern would have much more impact than mine.
A: I have not reviewed the curriculum itself, but according to the “Pono Choices” website, the curriculum is a DOE-approved, abstinence-based middle school sexual health education program. Pono Choices was developed by the University of Hawai‘i to address the serious public health issues of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, both of which are higher in Hawai‘i than in other states.
The curriculum is described as an inclusive, medically-correct teen pregnancy and STI prevention program based on native Hawaiian values. According to Pono Choices staff, parents do have the right to opt out of the program for their middle school child(ren). This opt-out clause is DOE policy, which allows parents to decline their child’s participation in a sexual health curriculum at a public school.
While the curriculum is not currently available for review online, parents are invited to a “Parent Night” presentation at schools participating in the curriculum, where they can receive detailed information on each of the ten modules presented in the classroom. Additionally, take-home ‘ohana activities are designed to engage students’ parents or guardians in the lessons. For more information, visit www.cds.hawaii.edu/ponochoices/.
Q: I have owned a small business for many years, but need to learn how to use social media to attract new customers. Does the county offer any free workshops or classes I can take?
A: Yes. The Maui County Business Resource Center (MCBRC), which is part of my Office of Economic Development, offers free and low-cost classes and workshops that are open to the public. Recent topics include business branding with online marketing, using Pinterest to win loyal customers, and building your own Facebook business page. To see each month’s calendar of classes, visit www.mauicounty.gov/MCBRC. You can also visit the center at Maui Mall across IHOP, ph. 873-8247, or the Kuha‘o Business Center on Moloka‘i, located at 2 Kamo‘i Street, Ste. 600 in Kaunakakai, ph. 553-8100. Both centers are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Want to Ask the Mayor?
Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.