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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 21, 2002

Princess' will stipulates preferences

 •  Hawaiians' concerns go beyond school issues
 •  The trustees
Should Kamehameha Schools admit non-Hawaiians? Join our discussion

Advertiser Staff

• Q: What is Kamehameha Schools?

A: Kamehameha Schools was established by the estate of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who died in 1884. In her will, the great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha I established a private educational trust. Revenue from more than 300,000 acres of Hawai'i land and investments worldwide is used to finance Kamehameha Schools' 600-acre Kapalama campus in Honolulu and smaller campuses in Hilo and on Maui. Kamehameha Schools, formerly known as Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, is worth an estimated $6 billion.

• Q: How many students are enrolled?

A: According to the most recent annual report, the total full-time enrollment was 3,534 students in the K-12 program and 1,057 students in the early childhood program in the 2000-2001 school year. The trust's summer programs last year enrolled 7,928 students. Kamehameha Schools estimates that 28,500 children are served through its outreach programs.

• Q: How do you qualify to get in?

A: The will specifies that indigent children, orphans and those of pure or partial Hawaiian ancestry have preference. Hawaiian ancestry means that children need to prove they have at least one Hawaiian ancestor. Admission is competitive; students are evaluated on everything from grades to essays, standardized test scores and interviews. The Hawaiian-preference policy means that if there are not enough Hawaiian applicants who met the criteria, qualified non-Hawaiian applicants may be considered.

• Q: Does Kamehameha Schools verify Hawaiian ethnicity?

A: Yes. The schools verify Hawaiian ancestry as a condition of enrollment after a student is offered admission.

• Q: Who is responsible for the admissions policy?

A: The will gives trustees full power to regulate admissions. The board of trustees approves and adopts all admissions policies.

• Q: If the admissions requirements or procedures change, would more students be able to attend the campuses?

A: Probably not. While growth of the Maui and Big Island campuses will help open up space on the Kapalama campus, Kamehameha Schools will still serve only a limited number of students in its K-12 program.

The trust is trying to extend its reach in other ways. It plans to expand its preschool program to reach 11,000 children within five years and all 30,000 Native Hawaiian children in 15 years.

Also, a bill approved this year by the Legislature would let Kamehameha Schools convert some public schools with large numbers of Native Hawaiian students to charter schools. It's a move that may bring additional money and resources to campuses that face perennial problems with test scores, dropouts and poverty. The trust would give $1 to the charter campuses for every $4 the state Department of Education spends there and has budgeted $3 million for the effort. The first charter campus, most likely on Kaua'i, would open next year.