Long-Awaited Kīhei High School Breaks Ground
After decades of petitioning and planning, the long-awaited Kīhei High School in South Maui broke ground off Pi‘ilani Highway at 9 a.m. this morning, Monday, Jan. 11.
According to the final EIS document, the proposed Kīhei High School project site encompasses 77.2 acres of undeveloped land on the mauka side of Pi‘ilani Highway across from the Pi‘ilani Village residential subdivision.
The school will serve grades 9 to 12 in the South Maui region, and is designed to support an enrollment capacity of 1,650 students and approximately 206 supporting staff and faculty.
“As I knocked on doors in my neighborhood, people have made it clear that this is South Maui’s top priority,” said Rep. Kaniela Ing (Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena), who has advocated for this project since he was first elected in 2012. “As my o‘o hit the ground, I couldn’t help but get emotional. We have achieved the number one goal that we have set out to do. The people of South Maui should be very proud of themselves.”
Rep. Ing said that the South Maui community has been waiting for this moment since the 1990’s.
“I am ecstatic to see hundreds of hours of tireless work by so many people, over so many years, finally bear fruit,” Rep. Ing said.
While celebration is in order, “our work is not complete until 1,000 students are sitting in these classrooms,” Rep. Ing added.
Ing said the project’s benefits will extend beyond South Maui; classrooms in both Maui High School and Baldwin High School are overcrowded, and traffic into Kahului can be congested.
Its value also extends beyond education, said Ing.
“This is more than just a school,” Ing said. “Our community currently does not have a stadium or even a gym. Through sports and clubs, our high school will give our young people a better sense of belonging and serve as a true hub for our community at large.”
Ing credited the project’s success to community advocacy, his relationships with key lawmakers and a tear-and-send postcard he sent out to every South Maui home in 2013.
“It was inspiring to see how many pieces of testimony we got back and were sent on to the House Finance Committee,” Rep. Ing added. “It was the community voice that got Kīhei High School in the budget.”
House Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Nu‘uanu, Punchbowl, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), who controls the state budget in the House, offered her support for Rep. Kaniela Ing’s efforts.
“Kīhei High School is an important project for the Kīhei community,” Luke said. “Kaniela was instrumental in securing funding to begin construction of this new school and I will continue to work with him to make sure this project gets completed.”
Gov. David Ige and DOE officials also expressed their intent to see the project through completion.
The school is estimated to open as early as 2018, depending on how the funding, design and contracts are secured and completed.
There have been some administrative impediments along the way, hurdles that Ing said are inevitable for a project of this size.
“The scale of this project is an enormous,” said Rep. Ing. “Sometimes things happen that are out of your control, but all you can do is be transparent with the community, never get discouraged and keep moving forward. The important thing is it is happening now.”
The Legislature met the governor’s request to fully fund the $130 million project in 2013, but unforeseen fiscal challenges and administrative changes prevented the department from spending $100 million of the funds.
When Gov. Ige’s administration took over in 2014, the department opted for a phased approach:
$30 million will be immediately available from the Legislature for the first phases of construction—ground work, constructing wells and an access road. Of the $30 million, $400,000 has been already awarded.
Construction of classrooms and administration buildings will encumber the remaining appropriation.
According to Rep. Ing, the project will cost an additional $50 to $100 million, depending on the final design and cost of materials. He said he will work to get funding underway for Phase 2 in the next legislative session.
“We want to do more with less,” he said. “The project will take due diligence and requires fiscal responsibility.”
“I’m really excited that this will be the first net zero high school in the entire state,” said Rep. Ing, noting that the facility will be powered by clean and renewable sources with energy to come from the sun and wind. “It sets an example for what high schools should look like in the future. This is not your grandfather’s high school.”
MAUI NOW STORY LINKS
Not Your Grandma’s High School: $3 Million Released for Kīhei High
Kīhei High School Among Issues Raised at Hawaiʻi Governor Forum
Kīhei High School Progress Topic of Upcoming Meeting
$130M Secured for Kīhei High School in Draft Budget
Bills Seek Naming Future Kīhei High School In Honor of Mink
Kīhei High School Gets $130M in Draft Budget
House Approves $65 Million for New Kihei High School
Governor Accepts EIS for Kihei High School
Kihei High School Final EIS Released
Senate Budget Includes Kihei High School and CIP Package
$8 Million released to acquire land for New Kihei High School
Kihei High School Moves Closer to Reality