DOE eyes park property to expand crowded Mililani Middle

DOE eyes park property to expand crowded Mililani Middle
Published: Nov. 11, 2016 at 9:28 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2016 at 5:45 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mililani Middle was built to accommodate 1,350 students. Today, it's the state's largest middle school, with more than 1,800 students.

And it's bursting at the seams.

To accommodate all the students, the school has a year-round, multi-track schedule. At any one time, one track of students is off school, while the other students are in school.

The multi-track schedule, which several Hawaii schools have, is challenging for parents and students alike. "You're not allowed to take family vacations because it's an unexcused absence," parent Lani Montayre said.

To address the situation, the state Department of Education wants to convert Mililani Middle School to a standard school schedule.

But it doesn't have space for another building on the campus so it's eying a plot of land on city park property adjacent to the school.

And that's causing some concern.

"What the city is looking at is entering into an agreement with the state ... to allow the Department Education to utilize this parcel of park land," Honolulu City Council member Ron Menor said.

For that to happen, the city would first have to condemn some of the park space at the Mililani Mauka Community Park.

"What we're asking is that the city allow the state to use and own one to 1.5 acres so that the state can build a new building to add to the school," said state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, whose district includes Mililani Mauka.

The state Legislature appropriated $11 million for a two-story, 12-classroom building for Mililani Middle. The DOE would need about $14 million more for construction.

But not everyone is on board with the plan.

Montayre said some park patrons aren't warm to the idea of losing any green space.

"A lot of people have sporting events here on the weekend or doing the week," she said. "My kids like to come here to run around and play soccer, play football or throw Frisbee."

But Menor said the area the school wants isn't heavily used. "I don't anticipate that there is going to be any conflict with park users," he said.

As a trade-off, when school isn't in session the DOE would let park goers use a parking lot that would be built next to the new building.

"We've already met with neighborhood boards, both Mililani and Mililani Mauka," Dela Cruz said. "We've been trying to inform the communities over the past several years."

The City Council Budget Committee will discuss the proposal Wednesday.

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