Survey: 67% of community prefers original Front Street location as site for rebuild of Lahaina’s King Kamehameha III Elementary

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King Kamehameha III Elementary was damaged beyond repair during the Aug. 8 wildfire incident. PC: Wendy Osher (8.29.23)

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education today released a report summarizing input and opinions from a series of community feedback opportunities on the rebuild plan for King Kamehameha III Elementary School. A total of 291 community members including faculty/staff, current school family members, alumni, and interested community members completed feedback surveys, delivered via three formats – at a staff/faculty meeting, at an open community meeting, or online. 

King Kamehameha III Elementary was one of the sites destroyed in the wildfire that swept through Lahaina in August 2023, displacing students, families, faculty, and staff from a learning environment that had operated on Front Street for over a century. HIDOE is now in the process of identifying a permanent location to rebuild the school, which currently operates out of a temporary location at 100 Akahele St, Lahaina, HI 96761.

“The Department has been in discussions with the county on the needed infrastructure for the sites being considered for a permanent campus for King Kamehameha III Elementary,” said Hāna-Lahainaluna-Lānaʻi-Molokaʻi Complex Area Superintendent Rebecca Winkie. “We are encouraged by the collective commitment from partner agencies to work together to provide a permanent replacement campus for King Kamehameha III as soon as possible to serve the Lahaina community.” 


The three choices presented to the community were: the original location on Front Street; Pulelehua, which is near the current temporary location; and Kāʻanapali 2020 – Puʻukoliʻi Village Mauka. For more information about each site’s potential benefits and drawbacks from a planning perspective, please see the full text of the report

King Kamehameha III Elementary School temporary campus in Kapalua. PC: JD Pells / Maui Now

Key themes that emerged through the feedback included: 

  • Cultural and historical concerns – the desire to keep the original location or at least choose a location within Lahaina town for the school; concern about what will happen to the Front Street location if the school is not rebuilt there; and consideration for the historical significance of the name and location of King Kamehameha III Elementary. 
  • HIDOE’s decision making process – perceived partiality towards the Pulelehua location; requests to include more community voice and community members in the decision making process; and requests to put students and community over expediency and finances.
  • The importance of planning for future rebuilding and growth – community desire to build two schools instead of one; traffic considerations; keeping Lahaina’s culture and character; teacher and general housing concurrently; zoning and permitting issues; and providing educational and extracurricular opportunities for students.

Of the three options proposed, participants’ feedback broke down as follows: 


The following were cited as the most influential factors for participants: 

HIDOE solicited feedback from the school and local community by holding two in-person meetings on May 21 – one for faculty and staff and a second meeting for school families and the public, followed by sharing out video recording of the meetings and an online survey for community members to provide feedback even if they were unable to attend the in-person events. The Department engaged Paʻakai Communications to facilitate the meetings as a neutral third party and assist in feedback collection and analysis.

The report will remain posted publicly at, a new dedicated page where community members will continue to find information and updates about the school rebuild process for King Kamehameha III Elementary. The community feedback included in this report is currently under review by HIDOE leadership, and department officials say it will play an important role in defining next steps for the site selection process. 


Click here to download the report.


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