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$17.7 million financing in place for new Kihei Charter School facilities

November 14, 2013
Maui Weekly

Susan Halas - The new Kihei Charter School facilities cleared another hurdle when U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for kindergarten to eighth grade and grades nine to 12 was announced on Wednesday, Nov. 6. According to Gene Zarro, $17.7 million in USDA funding is now in place.

Zarro, who heads the South Maui Learning Ohana (SMLO), the nonprofit organization that directs and administers Maui island's only public charter school, expects the design phase for the high school to begin soon and draw down on a portion of those funds.

He anticipated the new high school--slated for a 2.75-acre site in the Maui Research and Technology Park--would be built within the next 24 to 30 months and would contain approximately 36,000 square feet on three levels. When completed, he said, the new facility would allow high school enrollment to expand to 400 students. Presently, the charter school's upper division has 270 students, who attend classes offered in leased commercial space in South Maui and do not yet have their own campus.

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According to Gene Zarro, who heads the South Maui Learning Ohana, $17.7 million in USDA funding is now in place for a new Kīhei Charter High School.

Zarro commented that the school hopes to continue its drive for energy independence and is exploring the possibility that the new structure may be entirely off-grid.

As for grades K to eight, Zarro said, "the hunt is still on."

One of the conditions of the financing package is that the SMLO contributes $3 million to the total costs of the projects. He said a capital campaign to raise funds will get underway shortly; to make a donation, contact him at



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