Group proposes plan to save Kaimuki elementary school

Dwight Synan
Dwight Synan

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KAIMUKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A garden in a gated corner of a Kaimuki campus honors Queen Liliuokalani. She founded the elementary school on Waialae Avenue that bears her name.

But a lot has changed.

"The enrollment has been slowly declining," said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent with the state Department of Education.

Queen Liliuokalani School is being considered for possible consolidation.

Community organizer Dwight Synan and others think a better idea would be to turn the elementary school into a charter school for middle-schoolers.

Moore said that would a first.

"We've never had a case before where an elementary school was converted to a secondary school," he said.

"It's a smaller school in a smaller school campus. So it allows something that perhaps the private schools offer within their programs that will finally be offered for the students of public schools," Synan said.

He envisions the school focusing on performing arts, science, technology and math.

Synan spearheads the grassroots group Friends of Queen Liliuokalani school.

"People first and foremost want the best for the children," he said. "We have over 1,200 signatures signed on a petition to keep the doors open."

This semester, the school's student body is only about a hundred kids.

The DOE estimates closing the campus and sending students to neighboring schools would save the state $370,000 a year.

Synan's idea would have to go before the Charter School Review Panel.

"That panel goes after the charter school community, asking basically is anybody interested in using this facility?" Moore said.

"The cornerstone of Kaimuki is Queen Liliuokalani School," Synan said.

In fact the queen herself planted the cornerstone.

Next year the school celebrates it's 99th anniversary.

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