Ground broken at Maui Waena

Groundbreaking for a new classroom building at Maui Waena Intermediate – many years late – was held Friday at the Kahului public school.

The 15,000-square-foot, two-story building, which includes three science and three math classrooms, a multipurpose room, a computer lab and office space for a school community counselor, first received $9 million for design and construction about a decade ago. However, site relocation and difficulties obtaining permits set the project back.

In fact, originally $5.1 million had been set aside for construction but the costs of labor and materials have risen. F&H Construction officials said that the construction budget has been increased to $6.6 million.

The new two-story wing will be located in the front of the school in place of the basketball court, next to the parking lot. The basketball courts already have been relocated to another part of the campus.

Construction has begun, with the old basketball court excavated and batter boards up in preparation for the laying of the foundation, said Principal Jamie Yap on Friday. Electrical and plumbing work needs to be completed before the foundation can be poured.

The groundbreaking, which was originally tentatively scheduled to occur last month, was organized by state Rep. Justin Woodson, said Yap.

“It’s great to know that we’re going forward,” he said.

The project is expected to take a year to complete and be ready for next school year, he said.

The new classroom building is expected to help relieve overcrowding in the only public intermediate school in the Kahului area. With more than 1,100 students, Maui Waena is one of the largest intermediate schools in the state and one of the largest schools in Maui County.

Yap said last month that the Department of Education has added eight portable classrooms to his campus over the years – the latest being a special education classroom that arrived last month.