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State spending $9M for temporary school for lava-displaced kids

  • COURTESY DOE
    The Kea'au High lower parking lot where the Department of Education is building an alternate site that would accommodate at least 17 classrooms and up to 500 students and staff.
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The state Department of Education is spending an estimated $9 million to build a temporary school to accommodate up to 500 students and staff if lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses Highway 130 and cuts off the main route to Hawaii island’s lower Puna district.

If lava crosses Highway 130, students from Keonepoko Elementary, Pahoa High & Intermediate and Pahoa Elementary who live north of the flow would be rerouted to the Keaau complex, where the DOE is building a temporary school in the parking lot of Keaau High School.

Students who live south of the flow would continue to go to their regular schools as long as their schools are not affected by the flow, DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said in a statement Thursday.

The temporary site at Keaau High is designed to include at least 17 classrooms.

"We believe that setting up an alternate site is necessary in order to ensure that our teachers and students have everything ready should we lose a school," schools superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a statement. 

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