Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, July 24, 2013

County of Hawai`i plans to expand installation of solar to fire and police stations around the island, following the success of the
solar installed in parking areas and rooftops at the West Hawai`i Civic Center. Photo from Hawai`i County
COUNTY ENERGY COORDINATOR Will Rolston and county Department of Research & Development chief Laverne Omori provided a presentation on the County of Hawai`i – Energy Program to the County Council Committee on Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability yesterday.
      Council member Brenda Ford pointed out that the plan describes 19 locations, most of them police and fire stations that are open 24/7 where the Energy Program proposes installing photovoltaic equipment to not only produce electricity for the sites but also to generate revenue for the county by selling electricity to Hawaiian Electric Light Co.  “The challenge is that the county has to work with HELCO to make sure that PV will not overload the grid at various locations,” Ford said.
  An Energy Transformation chart was presented, showing that now there is work on Energy Efficiency and on-Site Renewables. Over the next year will be continued work on On-Site Renewables and Transportation projects which will continue into the next two years along with Utility Grid Initiatives. The long-term plan is to work on Energy Demonstration Sites as well as Economic, Efficiency & Education, the chart shows.
      The presentation offered an Energy Project Portfolio, including efficiency retrofits, using 1,000 LED lamps, a PHEV fleet, Waste-2-Energy and H2 Buses.
      The West Hawai`i Civic Center solar system was given as an example of not only powering the building (100% renewable power until 3 a.m. most days) that garners $100,000 in savings per year. It also noted six electrical vehicle chargers for five plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and said the county plans to install more chargers and a possible additional storage system for the solar energy.
      The plan also calls for windmills to help reduce the electric bills for pumping county water. These would be the power bills included in water bills sent out by the county.
      The document is available to read on Ka`u County Council member Brenda Ford’s website at also at www.hawaiicounty.gov/district6.

THE PROPOSED HAWAI`I ACADEMY OF ARTS & SCIENCE satellite in Pahala Hongwanji made the headlines in West Hawai`i Today and Hawai`i Tribune Herald this morning. The Colin M. Stewart story quotes HAAS Principal Steve Hirakami saying, “We have had a lot of recent demand for our online program, especially in rural areas.”
     “We’re looking for temporary, or part-time, office space out there (in Pahala). This would be our only site outside of Pahoa, although we’ve got students taking the classes all over the place, in Kona, Ka`u, Honoka`a,” he told the Tribune Herald reporter.
     The story reports that the state Public Charter School Commission’s Performance & Accountability Committee will meet on Thursday. The proposal for adding the satellite location is on the agenda. The commission is expected to take up the matter at its next meeting in August, the story reports.      
HAAS Principal Steve Hirakami
     Hirakami told the Tribune Herald reporter the HAAS home base in Pahoa means that students from far away places must travel long distances for face-time sessions at the school. The satellite location in Pahala would save students the trouble. “We’re wanting to provide our students in one area with a place, rather than taking that long drive,” he told the newspaper.
      Stewart writes that “According to the request submitted to the Charter School Commission, the HAAS site addition would be effective no sooner than Aug. 1, and could serve up to 35 students during the coming school year.
      “In light of some concerns within the Pahala community about traffic and safety issues that could arise, Hirakami was careful to note that the program does not currently have 35 Pahala-area students signed up, nor would the building normally see that many students on any given day,” the Tribune Herald story reports.
      The story quotes Hirakami saying that “This is all in an exploratory phase at this point. No commitments have been made, no teachers have been hired. A lot of that is depending on demand. We just have a handful of students in the area at the moment. … Even if we had 35, you’d be lucky to have five out of the 35 at the facility on a given day. It’s all virtual; this is not a traditional brick-and-mortar school.”  See more at www.hawaiittribune-herald.com
      Ocean View resident and parent Hunter Bedgood sent in testimony o the State Public Charter School Commission supporting the Pahala Hongwanji location, stating: “I urge all concerned in this matter with regard to your authority, to please see through the smoke and mirrors. I speak to you regarding the proposed meeting place where parents and students in Ka`u can excersize their Constitutional right to free assembly. There is some static regarding this right. This location will serve as a meet and greet for students, parents and teachers. The curriculum is online and state approved. Having a location for where everyone can mingle is critical in socialization as well as additional clarity to where the students progress is. Letting a few biased individuals with their own agenda derail an incredible opportunity for our children is wrong. 

Pahala Hongwanji School after re-roofing with funding from Olson Trust in 2012 is proposed site for Pahala Learning Academy.
 Photo by Julia Neal
     “The Hawai`i Academy of Arts& Science Charter School has state approved curriculum that has incredible success to reach and equip students. This and other alternative schools have a much better success rate than the standard public school system here in Hawai`i as well as the mainland. The fact that this available in our district should be seen as a blessing. The possibilities for our children to get the best education possible is the number one priority. In my opinion allowing anyone or anything to prevent this should be stopped and scrutinized in order to uncover their true motives.”
      Green Sands resident Jendayi Miller wrote: “Please consider tabling any action on the expansion of HAAS into Ka`u until a use permit is issued by The County of Hawai`i Planning Commission/Department.”
      Kaaren Sue Hughes wrote, “We feel it is very important to have a charter school at Pahala, Hi. We feel there will be more guidance, structure, teaching ability and in general the children will be able to learn in a more positive environment. If the charter school does not materialize we will have no other option but to home school our child. The curriculum in the charter school is much tougher and more challenging than in the Pahala school.” 
      Ross Rammelmyer, of Volcano, who supports a charter school at Pahala Hongwanji and the concept of the Pahala Learning Academy, added to his testimony (which was reported on this website yesterday). He wrote: “Please add to my recent written testimony that for the foreseeable future all activities that we propose for the Pahala focus will be conducted from the facility in the Hongwanji building itself for which there has been a certificate of occupancy encompassing the activities we contemplate. The often confused about pre existing larger school building will only come into play if and when all necessary procedures and certificates have been obtained and all agree to its use in any way in pursuit of resumed educational activities.”
          Reba Galea, of Na`alehu, wrote: I am writing in support of the Pahala Learning Academy. I request that the Commission’s Performance and Accountability Committee approve the request for this new charter school.
     "Last year, after retiring from the military I purchased a home and settled with my children (ages 11 and 13) in Na`alehu, Hawai`i. I gave the public school system a chance, and I am appalled on so many levels.
     "It is every child's right to have free quality public education in a safe environment where they can reach their full potential. After recognizing that the Ka`u Public School District is not providing this basic right to my children, it is my obligation as a parent to make an informed decision on what is best for them and their futures. The Pahala Learning Academy offers my family another choice other than home schooling or the failing public school system. As a 100% disabled veteran, homeschooling is too difficult for me. The Pahala Learning Academy is the perfect option.
     "The Ka'u District public schools are failing and have been for years. Even with all of the federal money that has been poured into the system, there has been little or no change. Discipline and racial issues are also unresolved issues. The curriculum of the public schools is below national standards and the teachers seem to have given up.
Hawai`i Academy of Arts & Science proposed to offer a digital option for Ka`u.
    "The Pahala Learning Academy is going to raise the bar on public education. It is going to prove that higher standards are possible. It is going to teach at national standards and instead of keeping the local community oppressed, the students will be empowered. It is going to offer a unique opportunity for students to develop their abilities to embrace learning as a lifelong process, to be responsible for their own learning, to understand what it means to be a human being and to work together with others regardless of race, to engage in complex thinking and problem solving, to recognize and produce quality performance and results, and to take pride in their school and become contributors to their community and to the world. This school is also going to have family involvement and support which is something that the public schools have been unable to conjure up. Most importantly, my children will be assured that the education that they receive at the Pahala Learning Academy will not only support their dreams of going to college, but will prepare them to be successful.
     "The Pahala Learning Academy is needed and wanted in this community by parents and community members who care about the education of our children! Ms. Kathryn Tydlacka, the founder of this school is one of the most dedicated and passionate teachers I have ever met. I trust that under her leadership and direction, my children's education is in the best hands. Please approve the request for the Pahala Learning Academy," Galea wrote to the State Public Charter School Commission.
The Palm Trail can be explored by GPS this Saturday. Photo by Dave Boyle
     Parents desiring to apply for enrollment for their children for the HAAS satellite in Pahala can call 640-8077.
     According to Kathryn Tydlacka, the lead person in organizing the charter school satellite option at Pahala Hongwanji for Ka`u students, 
the program will accept seventh and eighth graders who score 300 or higher on math and reading HAS testing. “This is because of the strenuous reading requirements for the online curriculum,” she wrote in an email to The Ka`u Calendar.
     Local organizers of the initiative for a Pahala Learning Academy to be the satellite under HAAS announced a meeting for parents and prospective students for this Saturday, July 27 at 4 p.m. at Pahala Hongwanji. The meeting also includes a spaghetti dinner. For more, call Tydlacka at 918-640-1267 or kathryntydlacka@hotmail.com. As the Pahala Learning Academy website is down, prospective parents can review the HAAS program at http://haaspcs.org/
EXPLORE THE PALM TRAIL BY GPS & COMPASS is the program for keiki of all ages at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park’s Kahuku Unit Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At least one adult family member or adult group leader must accompany the children. Enjoy a free lunch and participate in cultural craft demonstrations. Bring a refillable water bottle and sturdy hiking shoes. Registration is required for this free event. Call 985-6019. 

KA`U AGRICULTURAL WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT meets today at 4 p.m. at Royal Hawaiian Orchards Field Office in Pahala. For more information, call Jeff McCall at 928-6456. 



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