With "a lot of prayer," fundraising and hard work, Kaahumanu Hou Christian School is working to wipe out its debt and is moving toward becoming financially sound again.
In November 2011, the school was losing $25,000 a month because of low enrollment, the aftereffects of the poor economy and a lack of marketing.
School Principal Joni Uemura has said in the past that most schools would have closed their doors at that point, but the administration was optimistic and didn't even discuss closing down the campus that sits on the grounds of King's Cathedral & Chapels at the intersection of Kuihelani Highway-Dairy Road and Puunene Avenue.
The administration's work to save the school has included multiple fundraisers, expanding its Noah's Ark Preschool program and making the school more visible in the community. Those efforts, along with strategizing and "a lot of prayer," have helped the school whittle down its losses to $10,000 a month, Uemura said recently.
"It's been really awesome to see the progress," she said.
In continuing its efforts to resolve its debt issues, the school will be holding a carnival from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the school. Uemura said that this event is one of the larger fundraisers to assist the campus that offers curriculum for children from preschool to grade 12.
Kaahumanu Hou Christian School Carnival
When. Friday, 6-9 p.m.
Where. On the school grounds at the intersection of Kuihelani Highway-Dairy Road and Puunene Avenue Admission. Free, but there will be costs for games and food, which include popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs and more.
Other activities. Silent auction and demonstrations by the Maui Fire and Maui Police departments.
Currently, there are 110 students enrolled. In 2011, the enrollment was just under 100 students. In its heyday, the school had 250 to 300 students.
King's Cathedral Senior Pastor James Marocco is the chancellor of Kaahumanu Hou Christian School. He began the school in the 1980s on Kane Street across from Foodland in Kahului. Uemura said that the vision the Lord gave him was to build a unique, Christ-centered educational institution
to launch pupils into life with the skills to succeed and to be fully committed to serving Christ.
The school does not receive funding from the church, Uemura said.
During the financial crisis, the school had to lay off several staff members. It also recruited a parent who used to teach physical education to serve as a volunteer P.E. teacher and also started up a new summer program for its elementary students, Uemura said.
The school also made more room for its preschool program that can now accommodate up to 90 students. It currently has 65 students and is looking for more.
In its marketing and fundraising, Uemura said the school has reached out to local businesses to get their name out to residents and to engage in collaborative endeavors. For example, the school has worked with Four Sisters Bakery in Wailuku by selling its banana bread.
In addition, Uemura was pleased to see Mayor Alan Arakawa make an appearance at the school when some of its high school students won essay awards.
"It's going to take a lot more work," she said. "It's going to take a couple or more years to get it where we want to be. We're going to keep at it."
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.