As lava from the Kilauea Volcano continues its approach toward Pahoa, schools in the rural community are preparing for the worst.
For two public Department of Education and charter schools, that could mean total devastation. The latest volcanic activity started in late June and threatens to divide Pahoa in half. The flow has slowed down — on Tuesday it had advanced just 120 yards since the day before — but it’s still expected to eventually cross over Highway 130.
Schools that sit in the lava flow’s path include the DOE’s Keonepoko Elementary and Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science, a charter school, while access to several additional schools could also be compromised. This would be the first time lava damaged Hawaii’s public schools.
But while the DOE already has a contingency plan in place for Keonepoko — a $9 million alternative campus with modular buildings on Keaau High’s parking lot that’s slated to serve as many as 500 people — the charter school appears to have little recourse. Unlike DOE schools, charter schools don’t have access to repair and maintenance funding, which is what the state is currently using for Keonepoko’s alternative campus.
Photo Credit: Tim Orr/USGS