Overcrowding worsens at Maui High — and relief is years away

Overcrowding worsens at Maui High — and relief is years away

KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - An overcrowded Valley Isle school is bracing for record enrollment when classes start next month.

Maui High School's principal is struggling to find enough classroom space. The campus in Kahului is expecting about 2,023 students, including 600 freshmen.

"It's going to be a huge challenge for us. We had to move people around this past summer and relook at our academics," said Principal Jamie Yap. "Hopefully, we're set up enough where we can take care of everybody with the space that we have."

To free up space, the school has already gotten rid of its daycare center for students with children. They've also taken other measures.

"We have well over 30 portables. As the school continued to grow, they kept putting portables on the campus with the idea that when Kihei High School gets built, that some of theses portables will be taken away," said Yap.

But the timeline for the construction of Kihei High School keeps getting pushed back from the initial target of 2014. The state now expects the first phase for 800 students to be finished by August 2021, but some South Maui families are still skeptical.

Halleh Dunnicliffe's son, Lucas, is about to enter the eighth grade.

She doesn't want him to have to deal with a long bus ride from Kihei to Kahului to go Maui High's overcrowded campus.

"As a parent, you start getting worried, you start getting disappointed, and you have to start looking for alternatives," said Dunnicliffe.

Meanwhile, Kihei Charter School will boost its enrollment to nearly 700 with the opening of its consolidated campus in late August. Students in grades K through 12 had been spread out at three different sites.

"It's really going to be a very nice education headquarters," said Gene Zarro, CEO of South Maui Learning Ohana, the non-profit that founded the school in 2001. "It's exciting. We waited a long time. Our children deserve it."

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