New classrooms coming to Waikoloa

KAILUA-KONA — Another eight classrooms are coming to Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School with the release of more than $12.4 million in funding for a new classroom building at the campus.

The new building will accommodate a growing enrollment — one only expected to increase — at the preschool-through-eighth-grade campus.

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During the 2016-17 school year, Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School had an enrollment just shy of 800 students, according to report from the Department of Education, an increase of about 57 percent from a decade earlier.

Art Souza, Hawaii Department of Education superintendent of the Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena complex area, said the building was earmarked for the school’s middle school students, which he said number about 260, a number anticipated to grow, he added.

“This building comes at an opportune time,” he said.

A former principal of that school himself, Souza said the new building is progress toward a goal a long time in the making, and said current principal Kris Kosa-Correia “deserves all the credit in the world for making this happen.”

“She’s done a remarkable job of getting it going,” he said.

The new two-story building will be a steel-framed, metal-roofed structure covering a footprint of about 9,135 square feet in the southwest corner of the campus, said Sherie Char, communications specialist at the Hawaii Department of Education.

It will house two science classrooms, an art classroom, a special education classroom and four additional classrooms.

The science classrooms, Souza said, will give kids a place to learn in a world increasingly focused on science, technology and math. The art classrooms, he said, meanwhile will allow educators to “create opportunities for the whole child.”

“We need artists; we need dancers; we need people who are pursuing theater arts,” he said. “We want to create opportunities that meet the passions and interests of all kids.”

Char said the new building isn’t planned to replace any portable buildings, which will continue to be used.

Souza said he’d like to see the portables being vacated by middle school students be re-purposed for the campus’s elementary students.

Souza also said the new building will expand the campus’s capacity to more than 1,000 elementary and middle schoolers to accommodate continued anticipated growth in Waikoloa.

Ideally, he said, he’d like the new building to be ready for use by the 2019-20 school year.

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In a statement announcing the release of capital improvement project funding for the new building, Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona) said giving students comfortable learning spaces “is a critical component to their path to success.”

“Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School is literally bursting at the seams, so this new classroom building is going to be a tremendous asset to the students and staff,” she said. “I’m grateful to my colleagues and the governor for recognizing the needs of the Waikoloa community.”

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