Laupahoehoe has voted YES to convert Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School to a public charter school.
The secret ballots were counted up after 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at the Laupahoehoe School and Public Library. The League of Women Voters’ past president Sue Irvine and volunteers Margaret Drake and Marianna Scheffer announced the results: One hundred forty five out of 180 voters cast their ballots in favor of charter.
After the results were announced, a small group of community members in favor of the charter conversion let out a cheer, and were quick to characterize the victory as a landslide.
The Laupahoehoe Alumni & Community Association will now be empowered to apply to the state to convert the school to a public charter school.
LHES has faced declining enrollment and reduced funding for years. As a result, the school is on the Hawaii Department of Education’s school closure and consolidation list. The school is also in restructuring for failing to meet the progress mandated in the federal No Child Left Behind Law.
In December 2008, a community-based organization called Save/Improve Our School (SOS) was created, and in October 2009, the US Department of Education awarded them a grant to convert LHES to Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School, or LCPCS. The organization says 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.
With the greater control that will be afforded to community under the charter school conversion, plans to return certain electives to Laupahoehoe are being discussed. The SOS group mentions art, music, forestry, engineering, sports and cooking. The group also says that existing programs that will be improved include agriculture, auto shop, and wood shop. SOS also ads that 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.”