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Opening date in sight for Kūlanihākoʻi, Maui's newest high school

Artistʻs rendering of the future library and cafeteria building currently under construction at Kūlanihākoʻi High School in Kīhei on Maui.
Hawaiʻi Department of Education
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Artistʻs rendering of the future library and cafeteria building currently under construction at Kūlanihākoʻi High School in Kīhei on Maui.

The state's Department of Education anticipates Kūlanihākoʻi High School in South Maui will welcome new students onto its freshly finished campus by the fall 2023.

The school’s opening was delayed due to traffic and safety concerns, however, officials may have found a solution.

Newly elected Maui Mayor Richard Bissen's State of the County address on Tuesday called on the high school's deadline shortfall and urged the governor to sign off on the indemnification, allowing for the county to issue a temporary certificate of occupancy.

"I'm pleased to announce that last week we submitted to Gov. Green our terms for an agreement that would indemnify the county from the conditions imposed by the Land Use Commission," Bissen said in the address.

Following Bissen's comments, Gov. Josh Green agreed to allow students to attend Kūlanihākoʻi after its construction is complete.

Deputy Superintendent Curt Otaguro stated that the Department of Education expects the school will open in August, allowing students to transition from their temporary classrooms at Lokelani Intermediate School.

Additionally, pedestrian crossing across Piʻilani Highway was required to obtain an occupancy certificate from the county. In exchange for the governor's agreement, the state assumes temporary liability for any legal issues that may arise.

The DOE anticipates construction of a raised crosswalk will take three years to complete at a cost of more than $25 million.

“We remain committed to funding the required grade-separated overpass. By making this only a temporary solution, it continues to put the onus on the DOE to follow through on what should have been done before this point,” said Sen. Angus McKelvey.

In the meantime, school buses are expected to transport students to and from the campus.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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