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Plan shifts kids to Koko Head


The Department of Education has approved a plan to redraw Hawaii Kai attendance boundaries to boost enrollment at Koko Head Elementary by about 150 students.

The DOE had been eyeing Koko Head or Kamiloiki elementary schools for consolidation and proposed closing one of the campuses, sending displaced kids to the other.

But parents came out in force against closing either of the high-performing schools and suggested redrawing boundaries that determine which school a student attends.

The department ran with that proposal, coming up with a plan that will shift about 150 students from Aina Haina Elementary.

Under the DOE plan, students who live in Kuliouou will attend Koko Head instead of Aina Haina.

Koko Head’s enrollment stands at 269 students. Aina Haina is near capacity, with 650 students.

In a memo Friday, Kaiser complex Superintendent Calvin Nomiyama made the boundary change official for the 2011-12 school year. The decision does not require approval by the Board of Education or the DOE superintendent.

However, parents can appeal the decision and the superintendent could overturn it if there is significant opposition. That is not expected.

For the most part, the change has appeased parents fretting over the prospect of closing either Kamiloiki or Koko Head.

A handful of Kuliouou parents have raised concerns, saying the boundary changes would create morning commute headaches and potentially have siblings attending two different elementary schools — Aina Haina and Koko Head.

But Nomiyama said a "grandfather clause" will allay most of those worries, allowing current Aina Haina Elementary students who live in Kuliouou — along with their siblings not yet in school — to remain at the school. Kuliouou students will be grandfathered in as long as their older siblings are still enrolled.

All other new students in any grade are subject to the new boundary lines.

In the memo, Nomiyama said the redistricting plan would save about $450,000.

"Adjusting the boundary lines … will bring this entire matter to rest and schools can now focus on learning and teaching," Nomiyama said. "Not everybody is going to be happy, but I’m relieved that it’s over."

Approval for the plan comes as the Board of Education is considering whether to close a school in the neighboring Kalani complex, Queen Liliuokalani Elementary in Kaimuki. The full board will meet Thursday on Kauai to vote on the issue.

The consolidations discussion is part of a statewide review of small schools to cut costs.

So far the state has closed two schools but spared six others on the possible closure list, including the two high-performing schools in Hawaii Kai.


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