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Blangiardi extends downtown Honolulu preschool lease for another 6 months

After 36 years, Seagull Schools' Early Education Center in Downtown Honolulu will be closing its doors in August. Earlier this month, the city notified the school that it would not renew its lease. The city plans to repair the municipal parking lot underneath the school.
Casey Harlow / HPR
Seagull Schools' Early Education Center in downtown Honolulu

Updated 3/22/22, 1:55 p.m.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced Tuesday Seagull Schools' early education center, next to the Frank Fasi Municipal Building, will have another six months at the location.

Earlier this year, the city notified the school that it was not going to renew its lease in order to make repairs to the parking structure below.

At the time, the school had until the end of August to vacate the premises — leaving just six months for the school to find a new location, and parents scrambling to find other daycare options, which can usually take years to pin down.

Seagull Schools CEO Megan McCorriston says she met last week with Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Managing Director Michael Formby.

Prior to this meeting, she says the school wasn’t able to meet with anyone in the administration to discuss next steps causing concern and frustration.

"The mayor acknowledged how important and vital childcare services are to the City and County of Honolulu – and indeed the state," McCorriston said. "So we were pleased to hear that as well as his desire to return a childcare center to our existing location. And the managing director for his part really acknowledged the community’s need for continued and uninterrupted childcare services. So to that end, he’s working closely with us to extend our current lease and even work and assist us with relocation efforts."

During a press conference, Blangiardi acknowledged the city could have initially handled working with the school better. He cited miscommunication as the main cause of tension between the two.

"We kind of miscommunicated internally, and got ahead of ourselves," he said. "The people to whom we charged with the responsibility of physically fixing the garage over there, which is really in a dilapidated condition . . . had taken it upon themselves to take that initiative. And what we realized very quickly in those efforts, was that we had really failed to communicate with the school, and how upsetting it would be to the school, and its parents, from the standpoint of the timelines and what we're proposing needed to happen."

Blangiardi says the city will continue to monitor the condition of the parking structure, and maintain it until the larger repair project gets underway.

McCorriston says last week’s meeting was critical and she is hopeful for the school and the families they serve moving forward.

"We are so grateful for any amount of time and extension of our current lease because I really think those additional six months are going to allow us to work with the city and have more flexibility in terms of our relocation prospects," she told HPR.

When asked about the search process for the school, McCorriston says they are still in the early phases of discussing with the city about potential sites. However, she emphasized the school is committed to serving the families of currently enrolled students, and those on the waitlist, regardless of site.

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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