21st century school planning underway

Bill establishing pilot project awaits gov’s signature

 UPDATED 9:43 PM HST May 17, 2013
HONOLULU -

A 21st century school doesn’t look like what you see now on a 15-acre plot in Waikiki.

The campus of Jefferson Elementary is one of several properties being eyed for redevelopment.

"My understanding is the school will still be here. It may not be in its present form but it will still exist to service the community," said Principal Scott Parker.

More than 400 students attend Jefferson. It was built in 1933 and named after an American president.

A Department of Education  released a list that shows who owns what under schools across the state.

That list shows the Waikiki property is in state hands, but officials say some of it is ceded land that will need the blessing of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the principal believes there may also be a section that is in the Kapiolani Park Trust.

"It's one of the entities that will be involved in the discussion if Jefferson comes to the table,” Parker said.

At this point, the DOE said even schools that are on the  historic register, like Central Intermediate or Royal Elementary could be in the mix, even though they are both in the capitol design district and could be tricky to develop.

And Jefferson Elementary, for its prime location, location, location, may not be the best site to move forward with first.

"I don’t know where we stand. I know we are a large parcel, so I don’t know if they want to take that big of a bite initially," Parker said.

There are 254 schools across the state.

The land under them is owned by either the state, or city and county, and in many cases is owned by both.

The city owns the land under Queen Kaahumanu school-- another campus under consideration.

And while some have suggested building a new elementary campus on McKinley High School property-- others say not so fast.

"Currently McKinley High school has a master plan for a sports and recreation complex in that corner of the campus, so there are lot of competing needs,” said City Councilmember Carol Fukunaga. 

Waikiki Elementary school is another site some say is worth considering.

Another is Ala Wai Elementary. The blue-ribbon school serves more than 500 students in a high- density area.

Development could be a ways off--but work is already underway for what’s possible in the short, and long term.

"Who knows what they have in mind for us, or any of the schools that might be selected for the pilot?" Parker said.

Once the governor signs the bill establishing a pilot project to develop three schools -- the DOE says it will be about a year away from pulling the trigger on a plan to select the sites.

DOE's facilities point man, Ray LaReux said neighbor island campuses are part of the mix--and at least one of the pilot schools will be on Oahu.

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