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Maui Now : Kīhei Charter School Opens in Permanent Location

Standing in front of the newly installed Kīhei Charter School sign, Gene Zarro (L), CEO of the South Maui Learning Ohana; Mayor Alan Arakawa; and Bill Gresham, president of the Gresham Company Inc.; gather to celebrate the end of a successful 18-year struggle of the Kīhei Charter School to build a permanent home dedicated solely to education. “It took us a while but we finally did it!” exclaimed Zarro. Courtesy photo.

After 18-years, Kīhei Charter School has finally found a permanent home at the top of Līpoa Parkway in Kīhei within the Maui Research and Technology Park.

The school’s official opening was announced by South Maui Learning Ohana CEO Gene Zarro on Monday, Oct. 22, 2108. South Maui Learning Ohana is the founding organization for Kīhei Charter School.

Kīhei Charter School does not charge tuition and its educational programs are free to the community.

Students and parents stream into the newly completed Kīhei Charter School preparing for the first day of school in the new $18.6 million two-story facility that will eventually be home to 750 students. Courtesy photo.

On Monday afternoon, parents and children streamed into the new school to begin their orientation to the campus and to find their new classrooms.

On Tuesday, classes begin for kindergarden to 5th grade and high school students. The middle school students will join them on Wednesday—the first day all the Kīhei Charter School students will be in their new building.

“It took us a while but we finally did it!” said Zarro.

It what could have been a scene from the classic film “Goodbye Mr. Chips,” but Maui-style, Zarro stood at the sidewalk entrance to the new school greeting almost every student and parent by name.

“Good hunting,” he called out as students rushed to find their new classrooms.

Kīhei parent Adrian Cagoni is surrounded by his family as he shares his delight at the new Kīhei Charter School with Gene Zarro, CEO of South Maui Learning Ohana (in cap); and Bill Gresham, president of the Gresham Company that oversaw the schools construction as the owner’s representative. Three of Cagoni’s four children attend the school in grades 11, 8 and 5. Courtesy photo.

The school will initially have an enrollment of 640 students; the school has a current capacity of 700 students. When the last wing of the school is completed in about two months, the school’s capacity will be 750 for K-12 students.

Since its inception in 2001, classes have been held at St. Theresa Church in Kīhei and various other locations.

According to Zarro, the new school cost $18,600,000 to build and was made possible by a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.

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