HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Board of Education's Administrative Services Committee has voted to recommend closing Queen Liliuokalani Elementary school in Kaimuki.
The vote was 7-0 with three abstaining.
Supporters of the school said it had a tradition to uphold, as it was dedicated by the Queen herself nearly 100 years ago.
"Our kids would lose a small school environment, and we would lose all of the history of course, the Hawaiian history," said Liliuokalani parent Jan Bullock.
"Please consider extending a timeline to Liliuokalani to give the school time to reinvent themselves, to better build up themselves," school supporter Susan Mizokami told the committee.
"This kind of attitude could have, and should have perhaps been there a while back," board member Eileen Clark responded. "They've had many decades to bring themselves (up), instead of waiting until the last possible moment."
Other school board members also said that while school consolidations can be disruptive, those disruptions can be brief.
"I've been an elementary principal, I've been a middle school principal. I've opened two schools," said board member Maggie Cox. "Kids adjust. Kids adjust much better than the adults."
The committee also voted to keep Puuhale Elementary open, with some members calling it a haven in its Kalihi neighborhood.
"We're down there, we're reading to the kids, we're trying to help the community, and we're just so thankful that we can still make a difference there and help those kids get the education they need," said Puuhale supporter Jonelle Rezantes.
"I'm excited that they kept Puuhale School open," said fifth grader Kristine Portigo, "and I bet that my classmates will be really excited, and all the lower grades, so they can experience what we experienced."
State School Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi withdrew her earlier recommendation to close Kalihi Elementary School.
Matayoshi's decision came in a letter to Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi, which was released just before a board committee resumed a hearing on whether to close Kalihi, along with Puuhale Elementary and Queen Liliuokalani Schools.
Matayoshi earlier said that closing the three schools could save as much as $2 million a year.
According to Matayoshi, the Hawaii Public Authority has 130 vacant units at Kalihi Valley Housing which will be used to house tenants from Kuhio Park Terrace when renovations begin there. Matayoshi said Kalihi Elementary would have to be kept open to accommodate students from Kuhio Park Terrace.
The full Board of Education is expected to vote on the committee's recommendations March 3.