During its 2013 spring and summer meetings the Waianae Neighborhood Board considered problems in the Waianae district schools. With increased student enrollment, especially at the elementary school level, public parking is inadequate and creates safety problems. With new housing developments on the way, the student population at elementary levels has surpassed their classroom capacity, especially at Leihoku Elementary and Maile Elementary Schools. Another prevailing issue is the need for additional security to prevent break-ins and theft of school equipment.
Calvin Endo, the board’s Education Committee chairman, reports that some schools recently have received funding and approval to improve their campuses. Makaha Elementary School will install an elevator for the handicapped to enable them to reach the library, and the cafeteria building will be reroofed and provided with special fans for cooling. Waianae High will have a chain link fence built between its grounds and the Waianae Harbor to prevent people in the adjoining homeless camp from breaking into school buildings and storage lockers for the agriculture and ROTC classes. Equipment for farming and military training has been stolen in the past. The high school will also add bleachers to its athletic stadium, and air conditioning for B Building will be completed. Other state funding will pay for a new Waianae Elementary School administration building, for electrical upgrades and restroom renovations at Waianae Intermediate, and for electrical upgrades at Makaha Elementary to allow more fans and computer use.
At its general meeting in August, the board learned that an effort to combat school truancy was initiated by Waianae Intermediate School with its “Defend Waianae” project. The program engages business owners, nonprofit organizations and the state legislature to address issues happening in schools. School absenteeism is deemed a major school problem. They determined that 210 students have accumulated absences numbering twenty-five days or more. Eighty-eight students and sixty-three parents attended the initial “Defend Waianae” event. When asked what were the main causes for absenteeism, Geanine Kahalewai, representing Senator Maile Shimabukuro, reported there are transportation and health problems. Steps to create parent and teacher involvement began with offering a movie pass and dinner if they would participate in the “Defend Waianae” discussion. Board member Endo commented that the whole community needs to get involved in reporting truancy and that an overall community plan is the best incentive for attracting volunteers to the program. Another board member doubted that teachers could or would volunteer their time if they stick to their labor contract. As part of their involvement, businesses will direct their employees to report any student not attending school.
According to Endo, bullying in schools has decreased, but cyber bullying has been increasing which can escalate into personal confrontations on campus. He recommends that parents monitor their children’s social connections on the Internet at home.