Updated: December 1, 2023
Senator Angus McKelvey (District 6 – West Maui, Māʻalaea, Waikapū, and South Maui ) is among those who have expressed disappointment and frustration amid unresolved issues surrounding pedestrian access and safety to the new Kūlanihāko‘i High School in Kīhei.
The state Department of Education failed to meet requirements set forth by the Land Use Commission to construct a grade-separated crossing for the school.
“Instead of pursuing plans to meet this requirement and open the school, the DOE gave the Department of Transportation $16 million to finish construction on a new roundabout on Piʻilani Highway,” Sen. McKelvey said in a statement.
Echoing the sentiments of LUC Commissioner Lee Ohigashi, Sen. McKelvey said he too believes that the Department of Education must be held responsible for fulfilling the requirements needed to open the school.
“As the newly elected Senator for this district, I’ve had numerous conversations with the DOE regarding Kūlanihākoʻi High School. At no point in these meetings did they convey any information about this transaction,” said Sen. McKelvey.
“Their egregious actions must be dealt with accordingly,” he said.
In response, Sen. McKelvey said he will introduce a resolution calling for a financial audit of the DOE to help determine how the $16 million was transferred to DOT for the roundabout construction when it could have been used for the construction of the grade-separated crossing, and where this money came from.
“The fact that they would ask for funding to cover the plan and design for the grade-separated crossing instead of funding the entire project will set us back another five years,” said Sen. McKelvey.
“This is unconscionable, considering this school has been in the works for the past ten years. It is a travesty that this money was taken from our children and used to fund a DOT project when they have their own budget,” he said.
With this additional delay, Sen. McKelvey said students of Kūlanihākoʻi will be deprived of the ability to utilize their new state-of-the-art facilities. They are currently using classrooms based out of the cafeteria and portable units at Lokelani Intermediate School.
“The Department of Education has a responsibility to the keiki and communities of South Maui, and I will be working tirelessly to ensure that they are held accountable for their actions, especially when they say they will come to the legislature to request more funding after wasting what they had in hand,” said Sen. McKelvey.
Sen. McKelvey said that if the DOE wants to make the situation right, they will go for a design-build and request a traffic emergency zone proclamation from the Governor to move forward with the project immediately.