For Kihei high school, 2012 has been a year of progress.
Early this year, the state completed purchase of the school's 77-acre site on the mauka side of Piilani Highway at Kulanihakoi Street. The preliminary environmental impact statement
was published in February and now South Maui is taking another step toward construction with the Sept. 8 release of the final EIS, which is available for public viewing while awaiting the governor's signature.
The next phases of the project include county and state action for: zoning and permitting; financing for site prep and infrastructure; financing of school construction; request for proposal for design-build bids; and final construction of the Kihei high school
Construction funding for the high school lapsed in 2008, so I made this a top priority after being elected in 2010. In the 2011 legislative session, I introduced HB1173 and, in 2012, I submitted HB2757 to provide $20 million in funding for Kihei high school's construction. In the Senate, Sen. Roz Baker made similar requests.
Kihei high school has the support of Maui's Board of Education member, Wes Lo, and Maui's legislative delegation.
In his next draft budget for the state (2013-14), it is anticipated that Gov. Neil Abercrombie will request $20 million in capital funding for site work, land grading and infrastructure construction. This may include off-site infrastructure envisioned in the final EIS such as sidewalks and bicycle lanes leading to the school site. The Kihei Community Association, its subcommittee Kihei High Action Team, and other South Maui community organizations have announced plans to speak up in support of this funding. I encourage all Maui residents to join in. This funding will positively impact Kihei as well as the Baldwin and Maui high school communities.
After site prep and infrastructure work, construction is planned in two phases, with the first phase serving 800 students.
Capital funding may come through several sources:
* Legislative appropriations and bond issuance.
* Public-private financing using certificates of participation.
* Public-private partnership using the 21st Century School Initiative program.
Political and economic considerations favor traditional bond issuance. The state's tax revenues are on the increase, interest rates are at historic lows and the construction industry is in need of work. General obligation bonds minimize the impact of construction on the Department of Education operating budget. Unlike school renovation projects, Kihei high school can be completed without displacing students, thus further reducing the impact on the DOE operating budget.
The 21st Century Schools Initiative has been suggested as a source of funding for Kihei high school. BOE Member Lo has said that Kihei high school may be among five schools selected for this innovative new plan. 21st Century Schools is at risk from the swirling dispute over the Public Lands Development Corp. But, unlike other projects, Kihei is not seeking a shortcut. We have a completed final EIS in hand. One scenario envisions funding for construction provided by in-fill development of a disused DOE site on Oahu.
South Maui is one of the fastest-growing areas of the state. Kihei and Wailea have nearly 27,000 full-time residents. That number could nearly double as 5,000 future housing units are currently entitled and another 5,000 are under consideration in the Maui Island Plan.
The 2010 census reports more than 1,800 people ages 10-20 within 1.5 miles of the high school site and more than 4,800 ages 0-10. This indicates that even without additional housing units, demand for high school seats will nearly triple in the next decade.
Maui High School is designed for 1,580 students, but its enrollment in 2011 was 1,826 students. Baldwin High School is expected to exceed its design capacity of 1,669 next year. More than 400 South Maui high school students are bused to these schools, and hundreds more seek other educational options. Without a Kihei high school, 400 would become 1,200, placing an unacceptable burden on our families and further overcrowding Baldwin and Maui high schools.
This has been an ongoing effort since 2004. With the support of our partners at the Capitol and in the community, we will get this school built.
* Rep. George Fontaine is a Republican who represents the 11th District (South Maui) in the state House. He is seeking re-election in November.