New Ewa Beach charter school needs to find a home soon
DreamHouse Ewa Beach just earned a major vote of confidence from the federal government in the form of a $567,804 startup grant, but the newcharter school still needs to find a home.
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DreamHouse Ewa Beach just earned a major vote of confidence from the federal government in the form of a $567,804 startup grant, but the new charter school still needs to find a home.
And the deadline is looming. DreamHouse has to secure a facility by Dec. 31 in order to open next August under its charter with the state. Plans to take over an unused fire station recently fell through, the latest in a series of facility setbacks.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement covers three years, with the first installment of $342,300 already available. DreamHouse was one of nine startup charter schools across the country to receive such grants this year.
“We are so blessed to be able to invest these federal funds locally,” said Alex Teece, founding executive director of the school. “But finding a facility is such a challenge. All of the options that we’ve been exploring have had some headwinds.”
“Obviously we are in an urgent situation,” he added. “If we don’t find a facility by Dec. 31, we lose our charter, lose the grant and have to start all over from scratch.”
SEEKING A HOME
>> What: DreamHouse Ewa Beach public charter school
>> Who: 100 prospective sixth-graders
>> Space needed: 3,000 to 5,000 square feet
>> Where: Ewa plain
>> Deadline: Dec. 31
The school was designed by a group of educators, parents and community members and received its charter in July 2017 with a two-year window to open.
It aims to start with 100 sixth-graders and gradually grow into a middle and high school. In its first year, it needs about 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, which could be one big space that can be partitioned or a series of classrooms, Teece said.
The school leadership team has been exploring public and private options, including churches, commercial space, public school and university campuses and vacant land in the Ewa Plain.
“We can start in a very small space,” Teece said. “We need four classrooms and some small administrative space to get going.”
The school’s mission is to develop homegrown leaders and foster community service. DreamHouse already has been holding leadership day camps for students on weekends that have drawn strong turnouts. The last one was held Saturday at Hawaii Tokai International College in Kapolei.
Altogether, DreamHouse organizers have raised more than $750,000 in grants and philanthropic aid. The school aims to provide an alternative to residents of the Ewa Plain and relieve overcrowding in some public schools.
Charter schools are free public schools that report to independent boards and are designed as laboratories for innovation in education.
Sione Thompson, executive director of the Charter School Commission, which oversees such schools, said DreamHouse leaders are working hard and he is confident they will find a location.
“I’m extremely encouraged that they have this amazing grant,” Thompson said. “They definitely have the confidence of the commission.”
For more information, visit dreamhouseewabeach.org.