by Judi Steinman
Laupahoehoe has voted to convert Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School (LHES) to a public charter school. League of Women Voters’ past president Sue Irvine and volunteers Margaret Drake, Marianna Scheffer were kept busy all day collecting secret ballots from parents and staff of LHES. One hundred forty five out of 180 voters cast their ballots in favor of charter conversion. Only 35 opposed. “That’s a robust turnout,” according to Scheffer, “it shows a lot of interest from the community.” Judi Steinman, a community member, called it a landslide.
In October 2009, the US Department of Education awarded a grant to convert LHES to Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School (LCPCS). Pam Elders, a community member, was instrumental in submitting the grant, which brings $450,000 over three years for planning and implementation of the charter school. The grant’s project director, Fred Pollock, considers the victory “a sign of great community support for reclaiming education in our area.”
The Laupahoehoe community has sought solutions to declining enrollment and reduced funding for years. In December 2008, a community-based organization called Save/Improve Our School (SOS) was created, which represents people in the North Hilo District who are seeking positive solutions to education in their neighborhood.
Holly Young, the community representative on the School Community Council, an SOS steering committee member and the parent of a recent LHES alumnus, “is thrilled with the outcome. Laupahoehoe is a powerful community that has always been behind the school. This vote will untie the hands of the community to provide electives and other opportunities that have not been possible before.”
Some of those electives that will be returned to Laupahoehoe include art, music, forestry, engineering, sports and cooking. Existing programs that will be improved include agriculture, auto shop, and wood shop. In addition to the US DOE grant, support from the US Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture and other sources will be utilized to ensure that great electives will be balanced with high educational standards.
Two seniors, Lauren Rillanos and Alexandria “Eunice” Baun, came by to see how the voting process was conducted. Eunice, who is president of the Student Body Government, stated, “I hope we go charter! Our school needs change for the better.” Lauren wants the younger kids “to have a better education and more opportunities than I had.”
Ballots were cast to approve, or not, the proposed Detailed Implementation Plan (DIP) application to convert LHES to LCPCS.
For more information, contact Fred Pollock (640-9013) or Niki Barton Hubbard, chair of SOS at 936-7673 or email supportLHES@gmail.com
UPDATE: Aiona calls on panel to approve Laupahoehoe Charter
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The DoE has already seized LHES shop equipment. Now they just have to make sure that the DoE does not steal their musical instruments and other supplies before conversion is finalized.)
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