Improvements give school room to grow Kealakekua facility unveils $1M expansion


Kona Pacific Public Charter School on Friday unveiled a $1 million expansion providing additional classroom space that will allow an increase in student enrollment.

With the 6,000-square-foot addition, the school now has nearly three times the classroom space it had a year ago. This fall semester its enrollment increased by 25 percent, to 230 students, said Usha Kotner, school director, who added the school’s enrollment last year was 187. The campus also added a second kindergarten class and an eighth grade.

“This is our first big expansion since opening,” she said. “Our intention, from the beginning, was to add children each year and when the opportunity came to make it happen, we took it.”

Included in the expansion are classrooms that will provide an educational environment that supports the school’s mission of cultivating in young people the skills, knowledge and values they need to reach their highest potential, she said. The school now has 11 classrooms, up from five earlier this year.

None of the expansion included room for administration or offices, Kotner said, noting the school already has a 900-square-foot office.

Portables that had housed the students in grades 6 to 8 were removed and students began moving into the classrooms a couple weeks ago, she said. In all, two teachers and an aide were hired.

“Having the children in a real classroom definitely creates an environment more conducive to more effective teaching and learning,” Kotner said. “We sent the temporary classrooms back and we were happy to see them go.”

A U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facility Direct Loan funded the November purchase of a 38-acre parcel containing a portion of an ancient Kona field system, a dormant 8-acre farm and the school, located above Kona Community Hospital, she said, noting the purchase falls under the nonprofit Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School and the school leases several acres. It also enabled construction of the new buildings, and the building of additional restrooms, a parking area and a ball field.

The improvements were financed with a 40-year, 4 percent interest loan. Such USDA loans are available to public entities in rural areas. Kotner expressed her gratitude to employees at the USDA Hilo office who worked with her to make the expansion a reality.

The school opened in 2008. It offers parents a choice of free, nontraditional public education in a small school environment with a rigorous academic program that integrates Hawaiian culture and agriculture studies into its Waldorf curriculum. When the school opened initially, it offered kindergarten through fourth grade and had an enrollment of 96 students.

For more information on the school, visit kppcs.org.