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Turning public school campuses into money makers

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Feb 04 2013 05:23:00 PM HST

Hawaii's Governor has a thought: turning schoolyards into moneymakers, playgrounds into profits. But it'll take some convincing before everyone buys into that notion.

HONOLULU -

Just imagine what is possible at the Waikiki site, which is now home to Jefferson Elementary.

It could potentially be a cash cow for the state.

A commercial development at the Diamond Head of Waikiki could bring in millions to help repair and upgrade other public schools.

"Actually we are doing an inventory of all our schools and the condition of the schools," said School Superintendent Kathy Matayoshi.

Imagine again, what could happen if Queen Kaahumanu school moved from its current campus on Beretania Street.

Opening up the lot for private development is just one option.

Another is building a new elementary campus on the McKinley high school grounds -- possibly the Makai Diamond Head end.

Sen. Jill Tokuda wants to take a cautious approach to displacing schools and developing public land.

She proposes a pilot project managed by the lietenant governor using two  school sites yet unnamed.

"Many school sites reside on city property, and so how do we make sure we understand what we are getting into? What are the capacity issues we are coming up upon So really just taking a more prudent approach," Tokuda said.

The governor's 21st Century School approach has the Hawaii Community Development Authority in the picture looking at what sites could be developed.

"We would still be deferring to the DOE and BOE and the state libraries from that perspective to represent the educational issues,"

"There are 256 schools. Not everyone would be involved. Maybe there would be about a dozen in the end of something like that. So it’s a mechanism, a means, a vehicle, a catalyst for the actual development," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Two bold approaches to what's possible.

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