By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
HAWAII KAI (HawaiiNews Now) – One after another parents, students, and teachers took the microphone at a public hearing in the cafeteria at Kaiser High School Wednesday night. Their message to the Board of Education was always the same. "Don't close any of our elementary schools."
The state Department of Education is considering consolidating elementary schools in the Kaiser school complex. It is examining a proposal to close either Koko Head Elementary School or Kamiloiki Elementary School.
Enrolment at both schools is down and closing one or the other could save taxpayers a few hundred thousand dollars.
The people who testified Wednesday think consolidation is a bad idea. About 400 community members attended the hearing. At least 50 signed up to testify, and while our news crew had to leave before everyone spoke, everyone we did hear talk wants both schools to stay open.
Parents say the schools are excelling and they do not their kids want them to lose the individual attention they get from the faculty.
"It frustrates me that this whole proposal to consolidate Koko Head and Kamiloiki is purely about money. If this is about money then why is the DOE pouring huge amounts of money into schools that have very low student achievement and are not making adequate yearly progress?" asked Nicole Perreira, parent of a Koko Head student.
"It doesn't make sense to close down a school that has been making adequate yearly progress year after year and shows a high level of student achievement, has strong parent support and family involvement only to spend that money on schools that don't have it," Perreira added.
"Please don't disregard the hard work that has been put in by the teachers. Let them continue to produce the kind of results Hawaii can be proud of," Koko Head parent Tim Hall testified.
"Governor Abercrombie won on his election talking about education. 'Should be number one.' Well here's your (Abercrombie's) first test. They are trying to close some of the number one schools in Hawaii. So why don't you (Abercrombie) live up to what you were campaigning about?" asked Tim Chapman, who has a child at Kamiloiki.
Within the next few weeks superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi is expected to make a recommendation to the Board of Education on the consolidation proposal. The board is expected to make its decision in late January or sometime in February.