The new three-story Kihei Charter School being built in the Maui Research and Technical Park is on budget, on time and set to open in August 2018, according to Gene Zarro, CEO of the South Maui Learning Ohana. The new building will open with an estimated 625 students in grades K-12. A recent review of building plans and their execution show that the project is on schedule, Zarro said.
“The first thing this building is going to do is remind the kids that now our school grounds, our environment–actually reflects the quality of work that they are getting,” said parent Kellie Pali, a member of the volunteer school board. Pali said an environment of project-based learning will provide Kihei Charter graduates with the skills to go out and serve the community, be great community leaders and create a legacy for students coming through the school.
Funds for the new school building were granted to the South Maui Learning Ohana by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/Rural Development) in the form of a 40-year $17.7 million loan. The Kihei Charter School was the last and the largest loan approved by the USDA for a non-profit before Kihei was no longer eligible for such loans because its population growth had moved out of the government’s official rural category.
“This brand new building is designed to be a school as opposed to taking over a church, or a strip mall or a nightclub and a Mexican restaurant,” Zarro said. “I do think there will be a greater awareness of Kihei Charter School and hopefully some of the misconceptions about us will disappear, including the misconception that we charge tuition. In fact, the school is a free public school like any other open to all at no cost. We also take students from all areas of Maui not just Kihei.”
The school–which will have a photovoltaic system on the roof and in the parking lot–will grow to serve the educational needs of all Maui, school officials said. In fact, someday there may be charter school campuses in West, Central and Upcountry Maui, Zarro said.
“I believe in a quality public education for any student who wishes to enroll,” Zarro said. “That means we have to have enough facilities and space to take all comers.”
There are still a few spaces available for students this school year. Call Gene Zarro at 808-385-1197 for more information.
Artist rendering courtesy of Kihei Charter School