Questions about school

Perhaps we are overly suspicious when it comes to announcements about the long-delayed new high school for South Maui, but it certainly seemed like there was some hedging in Thursday night’s announcement that the facility is on track to open for the 2021-22 school year.

A gathering of residents at a meeting at Kihei Elementary School were told by lead architect Charles Kaneshiro that the new high school will be built in phases. Currently, plans are that the school also will be occupied in phases, with freshmen only — or, perhaps, freshmen and sophomores — attending the first year the school is open.

Infrastructure construction — pipes, roads and grading — will begin this summer. The group was told this would take about a year-and-a-half.

The story in The Maui News said phase two will see the building of at least one classroom structure, an administration building, a joint library and cafeteria, a physical education room, parking lots, a clay court and a temporary playing field. The crowd Thursday night was told legislators have secured $101 million to pay for phase two.

Here is where we began to have our doubts. Total capacity for the high school when it is built out is expected to be 1,650 students, with each classroom building housing some 400 students.

Since phase two will only build “at least one” classroom building, what assurances are there that funding will come for the third and fourth classroom buildings that are needed for the full build-out of the school? After all, it has taken decades to secure the funding that will take us through phase two.

How can we be certain that the project will not be stalled and the full build-out take many years?

We were also not assured when Kaneshiro told the gathering that, “This has already gone faster than some of my other projects, I’ll tell you that.”

Hmm . . . now there’s a scary thought.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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