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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 18, 2001

Growth prompts new Mililani Mauka school

By James Gonser
Advertiser Central Bureau

MILILANI MAUKA — An elementary school planned for Mililani Mauka is expected to accommodate an ever-growing number of students there.

Even though the 1990 census didn't record population figures for Mililani Mauka because the area was mostly fallow pineapple fields, things have changed dramatically during the past decade.

Developer Castle & Cooke has built thousands of homes in the subdivision and the 2000 census shows more than 11,000 people live in the thriving community.

A public elementary school was built to accommodate the community in 1993 and a middle school followed in 1998, but both are now beyond capacity.

The state Department of Education last week released a draft environmental assessment for its plan to build a second elementary school in the area to open in late 2003 or early 2004. The public has until July 9 to file written comments on the plan.

Bidding for the project is expected in December with construction beginning in March 2002, said Gordon Sam of the DOE facilities branch. The timetable depends on continued financing from the Legislature, he said.

The two-year state budget, awaiting Gov. Ben Cayetano's signature, includes $10.4 million for construction of the school during the fiscal year beginning July 1, and another $7 million the following year.

That's about $3 million short of the money needed to complete the school, Sam said.

"We will try and go in and beg on our knees for the supplemental year to add the money," Sam said.

Construction of public schools during the past five years has been focused on the growth area of Central and Leeward O'ahu and the Neighbor Islands, he said.

Comment on the proposal
 •  To comment on the proposed Mililani Mauka II Elementary School, send a letter and two copies by July 9 to: The Department of Accounting and General Services, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 430, Honolulu, HI 96813
On O'ahu, Mililani Mauka Middle, Waikele Elementary and Kapolei Middle schools have been completed since 1996 and Kapolei High is open, but under construction.

Konawaena Elementary and Kealakehe High on the Big Island have been completed and Kea'au High School is still being built. On Kaua'i, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle and Kapa'a Middle School have been completed, and Kamali'i Elementary on Maui recently opened.

Schools on the drawing board in addition to the new Mililani Mauka II Elementary are Nanakuli IV Elementary, with construction expected to begin in September, and Royal Kunia Elementary, which is on hold until land ownership issues are resolved, Sam said.

The new Mililani Mauka school is being built to keep pace with the growth in Mililani Mauka, said Alan Arakawa, vice president of development and construction at Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii Inc.

"Based on our discussions with the Department of Education and our projections, when this school comes through in 2003, it should balance it out pretty well and take care of all the elementary school needs," Arakawa said. "We are (planning) our Mililani Mauka phase III and our projections include those residents so we believe the schools will handle it fine."

Castle & Cooke plans to build 522 single-family homes and 304 multi-family units in the phase III development set for completion in late 2003.

When development is done, Mililani Mauka will have about 6,700 homes, Arakawa said. About 4,000 homes were built by the end of 2000 and the developer is adding an average of 350 units per year in Mililani Mauka.

The Department of Education estimates the number of public school students will peak in 2003 and then begin a gradual decline, eliminating the need for more schools in the area.

The $20 million Mililani Mauka II Elementary School will be on a 12-acre parcel to be donated by Castle & Cooke, on Meheula Parkway with entry on Lehiwa Drive.

The proposed school will serve the upper Mililani Mauka residential developments and will be designed for 650 students with the ability to go to a year-round, multi-track program that would increase the capacity to 866.

The school's plans include 70 parking stalls, an administration building, a cafetorium, a library/media center/computer resource center building, two classroom buildings, a covered playcourt, a mechanical/electrical building and playgrounds. The campus will also have a multi-purpose courtyard to serve as an assembly area for outdoor programs and activities.

The state is also planning for further growth by designating sites on campus for three portable classrooms and another six-classroom building.

Carol Peterson, principal of Mililani Mauka Elementary School said the new school will provide some relief on her crowded campus.

Peterson said 1,100 students attended the school this year. It was designed for an enrollment of 900.

"We have added portables to accommodate the increase," Peterson said. "We already have three lunch periods and three morning and afternoon recesses. A-Plus can only accommodate about 500 kids so we end up with a waiting list."