Waena plan to add, free up space

In the fall of 2015, Maui Waena Intermediate School hopes to add a new eight-classroom building to its campus, which will relieve overcrowded classrooms and boost the curriculum.

The $4.1-million project includes three science classrooms, three general education classrooms, a multipurpose room and a computer resource center.

“It’ll be promising, because it’ll be our highest technology building,” Principal Jamie Yap said in a phone interview Monday. “We’ll have more space for our teachers and offer more electives for our students.”

The two-story building will provide more than 20,000 square feet of classroom space and will be built on the school’s existing basketball courts fronting the school.

New courts are currently being built on the school playground near the music building. The relocated courts are nearly complete, as well as a new 0.8-acre parking lot next to it.

Although the new classrooms will be used primarily by 8th-graders, the addition helps free up space throughout the campus, Yap said.

“That’s the beauty of this,” he said of his 62-classroom school. “We’ve had some smaller classes and spaces that aren’t technically classrooms, but we’re using them because of the limited areas available. Hopefully, we can free up some of those spaces.”

The school’s library is heavily used for testing, which diverts from its primary use as an area for research. The computer lab in the new building could serve as the main hub for testing, Yap said.

The multipurpose, or choral, room also offers flexibility to the school and will provide a venue for dance and choral performances, he said.

The classroom building is sorely needed, said Yap, noting that the Kahului school with students in grades 6 to 8 is the largest of the eight public middle schools in the county.

For the 2011-12 school year, fall enrollment was 1,084 students – about 200 students more than second-largest Iao School (876 students).

The school’s current enrollment is 1,116 students, which is fourth highest in the state behind Mililani Middle (1,699), Kapolei Middle (1,466) and Waipahu Intermediate (1,289, 7th-8th grades), all of Oahu.

“Many people don’t know that right now, we’re bigger than King Kekaulike and Lahainaluna,” Yap said of the high schools that currently have 1,024 and 1,050 students, respectively. “And we only have three grades.”

According to state Department of Education officials, student population, which has steadily grown from 1,054 in 2009-10 and 1,068 in 2010-11, looks to “increase significantly due to ongoing construction of subdivisions in the surrounding Maui Lani development area.”

The Maui Lani subdivision, which includes The Legends, The Island and The Bluffs, has about 1,100 total homes with an additional 152 from The New Traditions subdivision near Pomaikai Elementary School that are expected to be completed in the next few years.

Maui Waena is within a high school complex area with a population of 51,920 residents, according to the DOE and U.S. Census and American Community Survey (2010).

“Existing facilities are inadequate to meet the DOE’s design enrollment for the school (1,008 students),” according to the draft environmental assessment for the proposed building released earlier this month. “The proposed eight-classroom building addresses the existing shortage of classroom space and helps to address the projected enrollment growth, ensuring that students have a quality environment in which to learn.”

The draft report says that the Central Maui district is forecast to have the highest growth in school-aged children in the county and that the “DOE has discussed the possibility of a new elementary or intermediate school in the Waiehu area.”

Referencing the existing capacity of Maui Waena and Iao School, the draft report called a new intermediate school “necessary.”

“Iao School is landlocked and they’re full,” said Yap, who noted that enrollment is his biggest concern. “And we’re pretty much landlocked, too.

“It’s been a long process to get this building in place.”

Yap has been with the school that opened its doors in 1989 since its inception and remembers the 12-acre campus having about 250 7th- and 8th-graders and seven classrooms.

The proposed building, expected to begin construction at the end of this year, marks the last piece of the 24-year-old school.

“Our school was built piecemeal,” said Yap, who has been principal of the school for about a decade. “This is the last building to be built and then we can say we’re complete.”

The comment period for the draft environmental assessment is May 23. Those interested in commenting may contact the Department of Education, Facilities Development Branch, P.O. Box 2360, Honolulu, 96804; contact Ryan Yamamoto, (808) 586-0966; or consultant PBR HAWAII, 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 650, Honolulu, 96813; contact Vincent Shigekuni, (808) 521-5631.

Online: Documents/Environmental_Notice/current_issue.pdf.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at