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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 19, 2010

Lahainaluna home away from home

Good to know that, while the state economy is still limping pretty badly, we haven't hit rock-bottom quite yet.

Lawmakers are poised to preserve the Lahainaluna High School boarding program a tradition that's nearly 180 years old even if it means they have to look elsewhere to carve a $523,000 line-item from the budget.

Meanwhile, legislators have proposed assigning a panel one of the myriad "working groups" they frequently tap to wrestle with its knotty problems to figure out how the community might help secure its long-term survival.

A budget that spares the program should survive the sausage-making at the Capitol over the next few days.

The boarding program originally was founded to house students from Moloka'i and other islands where there was no school. That need has ended, but students continue to compete for a dormitory spot, simply to maintain the legacy.

But for the 116 boarders, the program still fulfills a purpose. Each student does 18 hours of maintenance work while they're on campus each week. Besides the practical skills kids can learn earning their keep, or the budget savings, there's a personal commitment to the school and a communal bond that other schools would envy. Officials should be looking at ways to replicate this program, not to kill it.

The Legislature should pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 6, which calls on the working group to seek private partners to help pay for the boarding program.

Private sponsors who support education do have a part to play in the perpetuation of this program. This boarding school is part of community history, and that's not something Maui, or any community, should want to lose.