Maunaloa School Update
Two other Molokai elementary schools also will be studied for consolidation.
By Sean Aronson
It is official – Maunaloa Elementary School will be reviewed for possible consolidation in the coming months.
After much speculation and confusion, State education officials announced this week that Maunaloa is among the schools being considered for consolidation. The Molokai school is part of a list that includes more than 20 schools in the islands. Two other elementary schools – Kualapu`u and Kaunakakai Elementary Schools – were grouped with Maunaloa in the announcement.
The Board of Education has grouped schools together that share geographical areas in order to study them as a system. If Maunaloa were to close, it is likely students would be transported to Kualapu’u or Kaunakakai, according to Board of Education members.
The consolidation effort comes as the Department of Education looks to cut costs to next year’s budget.
According to the announcement, Maunaloa School will be studied to determine if the building is being ‘underutilized’ as specified by a number of standards set by the Board of Education. These include declining enrollment and costs of repairs to the existing structure. If it is determined that the school meets these criteria, than consolidation is a likely outcome.
The next step in the process is the creation of a task force. The task force will include Maunaloa Principal Joe Yamamoto and Complex Area Superintendent Lindsay Ball. They will work together to select community members to sit on the task force. It is unclear when or how soon this task force will be formed.
State education officials said the consolidation studies will occur in three phases. Maunaloa, and the other Molokai elementary schools, will be considered in the first phase. No Molokai school is in the second, but Molokai High and the Molokai Middle are slated for consideration in the third phase.
Thus far the Maunaloa community has been actively garnering support for saving their school. They have had numerous sign waving events and are encouraging people to sign a petition in support.
As this process continues, the community-wide support will also have to continue.