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Kamehameha Schools to buy Hualalai campus

February 25, 2014 - 5:03am

Kamehameha Schools will be buying the Hualalai Academy campus, the closing school’s board president says.

Board members informed students’ parents Monday morning that Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estates will purchase the North Kona campus, Matt James said Monday.

“The decision of the board was unanimous for sale and for the sale to be to Kamehameha Schools,” James said.

In emails with West Hawaii Today Monday afternoon, James said he did not know what Kamehameha’s intentions for the campus were. A Kamehameha Schools spokesman did not respond to an interview request as of press time Monday.

The purchase price was also not immediately available. James said he was unable to discuss some details of the purchase agreement.

Parents of students were split over whether the board should accept Kamehameha’s offer, or go with a full-price offer from Makua Lani Christian Academy. James said he received emails supporting and opposing both schools. Concerns about Kamehameha’s offer focused on the school’s policy of only accepting students of Hawaiian ancestry. People opposed to Makua Lani buying the property noted the schools religious affiliation.

“Both schools were given the opportunity to make an offer for the property, and both offers were discussed and reviewed,” James’ letter said. “Due to the financial concerns and the time it takes to sell something as massive as the property, we needed to move with some urgency. … Based on feedback from parents and members of the Kona community, I can tell you there is no clear winner. Furthermore, any decision that would be made will make some happy and others unhappy.”

The due diligence period in the sale should conclude in time to complete the sale at the end of the school year, James said.

Doug Scoufos, whose 13-year-old daughter attends Hualalai, was vocal last week in his criticism of the board and the consideraton of Kamehameha’s offer. On Monday, he said he was working to find a way to stop the sale.

“I don’t think that Kamehameha has committed to what they’re doing there,” Scoufos said. “They could make office buildings out of it or level it or whatever they want to do.”

Hualalai’s board is not addressing the problem — the closure of a private school open to any student — by selling to Kamehameha Schools, he said.

“They have a duty to take care of these children and they’re not doing that,” he said.

Kamehameha Schools earlier this month announced it had entered into an agreement to consider purchasing the property. At that time, a spokesman said it was too soon to comment on any possible uses for the campus. The school runs campuses in East Hawaii, Maui and on Oahu, as well as preschools across the state.

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