DOE to decide on Queen Liliuokalani School closure following public hearing
KAIMUKI—On April 12, 1912, Queen Liliuokalani is said to have personally dedicated the school known today as Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School in Kaimuki. After decades of being considered for closure by the State Department of Education (DOE), it is at the school’s centennial that things may officially be coming to an end for parents, students, alumni, and teachers. A public hearing on the consolidation of Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School has been set for Monday, December 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kalani High School cafeteria.
“Next school year would be 2011-2012, so we would be able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the school,” said Karen Tsukiyama, former principal of Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School. “We were really looking forward to this for many, many years—15 years before we were talking about it. We hope we still can celebrate the 100th birthday.”
The DOE public hearing will be held to hear all persons interested in the report on the consolidation study of Kalani Complex Elementary Schools, which includes Kahala Elementary, Liholiho Elementary, Queen Liliuokalani Elementary, Waialae Elementary, Waikiki Elementary, and Wilson Elementary.
While all of the schools in the Kalani Complex are under capacity, except for Wilson Elementary, the report found that the closure of more than one school at the same time would lead to “significant disruption and adjustment of the attendance areas of most or all of the remaining schools.”
The numbers are what’s guiding the DOE’s decision.
Queen Liliuokalani Elementary is filling just over half of its enrollment capacity at 127 students out of 242 seats, a ratio not unlike the other schools in the complex.
However, even though Waialae, Kahalo, and Liholiho elementary schools are also operating below capacity, Queen Liliuokalani Elementary is the smallest of the schools with just 242 seats available to students. The next smallest, Waikiki Elementary, has 467 seats.
Simply put, closing Queen Liliuokalani Elementary would be easiest, the DOE says, because it would involve relocating a smaller number of students. It also means ending only one of the schools’ administrations instead of several.
The report lists disadvantages to the proposed closure as reducing the leadership opportunities for elementary students at all schools that are affected as well as larger enrollments at the two “receiving” schools, which may reduce the feeling of “family” at any of the affected schools.
The net annual financial savings for the DOE, including the savings on fringe benefits, from closing Liliuokalani comes out to approximately $370,000.
Following the public hearing, the DOE will submit a recommendation to the Hawaii State Board of Education on whether and when Liliuokalani Elementary School should be closed as well as how Waialae or Liholiho elementary schools should be adjusted to accommodate the Queen Liliuokalani Elementary students.
For students, teachers, and parents fighting to keep Queen Liliuokalani School open, the latest gatherings have increased the feeling of “family” and rejuvenated the community’s appreciation for the school’s history.
Since the report came out, a group called Friends of Queen Liliuokalani School was formed to galvanize the community and develop a strategy to perpetuate the school’s rich tradition. While there is not yet a single set course of action that has been decided upon, there is a petition to save the school that is circulating.
“Queen Liliuokalani really had a heart for children, for keiki,” Tsukiyama said. “And she had such a great love for the people of Hawaii and we’d like to just perpetuate that on that facility forever and ever, without any deadlines at all.”
Copies of the consolidation study report may be picked up at no charge between the hours of 7:45 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays) at any of the Kalani Complex Elementary Schools’ offices and the DOE Honolulu District Office located at 4967 Kilauea Avenue. The consolidation study report is also available at http://doe.k12.h.us. A copy of the consolidation study report will be mailed for a $1.10 fee (payable in advance) to any interested person who submits a written request to the DOE Honolulu District Office or calls (808) 733-4952.
All interested persons will be afforded the opportunity to present testimony, orally or in writing, on the consolidation study report at the time of the public hearing. Persons wishing to submit written testimony are requested to submit one copy of their written testimony at the time of their presentation.
Public testimony may be submitted at the hearing, mailed to the DOE Honolulu District Office or emaiied to firstname.lastname@example.org. Written and emailed testimonies must be received no later than three business days following the public hearing date. For more information, contact the Department of Education at (808) 733-4952.
Public hearing for consolidation of Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School
Monday, December 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Kalani High School cafeteria
4680 Kalanianaole Highway
State Rep. Barbara Marumoto speaks with members of Friends of Queen Liliuokalani School: