Army Corps of Engineers making progress on temporary elementary school in Lahaina

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US Army Corps of Engineers contractors prepare a site for construction of a new temporary elementary school campus in Lahania. PC: Sara Goodeyon/Army Corps of Engineers (11.25.23)

The US Army Corps of Engineers is making progress on the project to design and install modular buildings for a temporary elementary school in Lahaina, which will fill the void created by the loss of King Kamehameha III Elementary that was destroyed in the Aug. 8 fire.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency tasked the Army Corps with the mission on Sept. 13. The project is expected to be completed by the end of February, when the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education will take over to furnish and install telecommunication equipment.

“The temporary replacement campus for King Kamehameha III Elementary will be critical in providing our students and staff with a sense of normalcy and a solid foundation for learning and recovery,” said Keith Hayashi, superintendent of the Department of Education.

Many of the students who had attended King Kamehameha Elementary, which was located on Front Street, are now going to school at Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary School in Lahaina.


During the school contruction, which is located down the road from the Kapalua Airport on a portion of land that is part of the Pulelehua mixed-use project, the Army Corps is providing technical assistance, engineering expertise and construction management for the construction.

“This has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects I have ever worked on,” said Elizabeth McCarty, the Army Corpsʻ mission manager. “As a former teacher, this mission immediately tugged on my heartstrings.”

  • The first four of many modular buildings that will make up a temporary elementary school arrived at the construction site in Lahaina. PC: Sara Goodeyon/Army Corps of Engineers (11.30.23)
  • The first four of many modular buildings that will make up a temporary elementary school arrived at the construction site in Lahaina. PC: Sara Goodeyon/Army Corps of Engineers (11.30.23)

Oʻahu-based Pono Aina Management, an 8(a) Native Hawaiian Organization, was awarded a base contract of $53.7 million on Nov. 4 to construct the temporary campus, with a Notice to Proceed on Nov. 20.

Funding includes design of site, construction (grading, utility installation), and leasing the modular units for six months. There is an option to extend the leases up to five years at an additional cost.


The company was selected after a request for proposal was sent out on Oct. 16, and a site visit with potential contractors and their sub-contractors on Oct. 22. Proposals were received Oct. 26 and evaluated for the lowest price offer that was technically acceptable.

Temporary site for Kamehameha III Elementary in the mixed-use Pulelehua project area below and just to the south of Kapalua Airport. PC: Department of Education

“Knowing that many of the men and women working on this project were directly impacted by the fires makes it even more special,” McCarty said. “I am very proud to stand next to my entire team, my new extended ʻohana, as the school rises.”

Pono Aina Management and its subcontractors, Goodfellow Brothers, Diversity Resources Group and Willscot, immediately went to work on the day the notice to proceed was issued. Clearing and grubbing of the site was completed in three days. 

Cutting and grading, which began Nov. 21, is still being completed. Modular units were ordered and are being sent from Oʻahu, Washington and California, with the first units anticipated on-site the first week of December.


“Responding to this crisis has been a collaborative effort with our federal, state, county and community partners,” Hayashi said. “We appreciate the experience and leadership that the US Army Corps. of Engineers brings as they guide and oversee construction of this temporary school to serve our Lahaina community.”

The Army Corpsʻ Galveston District is responsible for contract management and project oversite with support from emergency personnel from multiple districts across the globe.


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