Kihei Charter School is an innovative public charter school serving students in grades K-12. Enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is 531 students. Enrollment has increased every year, as space as allowed since the school opened in 2001, and the school maintains waitlists each year. KCS is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school’s enrollment reflects the cultural diversity of South Maui: the student body is 70.5% white, 8.1 % Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 4.6% Asian, 2.4% Black, 2.2% Hispanic, 0.7% American Indian and Alaskan Native, and 11.9% students reporting two or more races. Currently 28% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch, and 6% of students have IEPs or Section 504 Modification Plans.
Kihei Charter School is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) school, and is the first STEM school in Hawaii. The school also focuses on 21st century skills and blended education. As students matriculate through high school, they are facilitated towards unique learning opportunities beyond the four walls of the school that include college courses for dual credit offered through the Running Start Program in partnership with the University of Hawaii, online courses offered through K12.com, internships, independent projects, and senior projects. Currently 20% of KCS students are enrolled in at least one college course, and 80% of KCS graduates continue directly on to college. During the 11-12 school year the University of Hawaii Maui College is offering four college classes at the KCS High School campus during the regular student day, making KCS the only public school in Hawaii to host college classes for its students. The core KCS curriculum for high school students is: math, science, engineering, technology, language arts, and social studies. Each year students are also required to complete electives (such as Spanish, Health, and PE) and independent projects. All students are required to successfully complete a senior project, an internship, at least one virtual course, and a portfolio exit interview/defense at the end of their senior year in order to meet the KCS graduation requirements.
Kihei Charter School was founded in 2001 by the South Maui Learning Ohana (SMLO). SMLO is a grass-roots non-profit organization, which at the time of the school’s founding was comprised of parents, educators, students, special needs specialists, small business development advocates, school administrators, public officials, a teacher’s union representative, people experienced in technology integration within learning situations, and other members of the South Maui community. The SMLO steering committee was twelve members and it met regularly for two years prior to submitting its charter to the State of Hawaii. Its broader affiliation included 1200 Maui residents who petitioned for the school’s creation. South Maui was without a high school and, in the year prior to the school’s opening, sent approximately 1,000 students to high schools in other communities on Maui. SUPPORT SMLO
In its first year, the school shared a space with the Kihei Youth Center in North Kihei. Student enrollment at that time was approximately 60 students in grades 10-12. During the summer of 2002, the school relocated to another North Kihei location at 300 Ohukai Road. That school year, KCS also extended its enrollment to include ninth grade.
During the 2004-05 school year, the school expanded to serve grades K-12. During summer 2006, KCS relocated to a new facility within the complex at 300 Ohukai Road, which was the former site of Hope Chapel. During summer 2007, the school acquired additional space for a second campus in Kihei and expanded its enrollment to accommodate a new Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) program for middle school students.
In 2009 the school acquired additional space and expanded the second campus and relocated it to Lipoa Center, right in the heart of Kihei. This campus serves students in grades K-8 and the Ohukai campus serves students in grades 9-12. Kihei Charter School’s STEM focus now spans all grades K-12.
KCS has a fleet of eight vans, which are utilized to expand learning spaces to include all of Maui as a learning lab, truly embodying the classroom without walls concept. KCS students benefit from the school’s strong community partnerships, including the Pacific Whale Foundation, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. These partnerships grant students opportunities to participate in relevant and experiential problem-based learning.
The school’s partnerships with the University of Hawaii Maui College, K12.com, and a wide array of community partners who provide supervised internships for credit to KCS students have also expanded the school’s academic opportunities beyond the four walls of the school. Currently, 20% of KCS high school students are enrolled in at least one college course through the Running Start dual-enrollment program, and 80% of KCS graduates continue directly on to college. During the 2011-12 school year, the University of Hawaii Maui College is offering four college classes at the KCS high school campus during the regular school day, making KCS the only public school in Hawaii to host college classes for its students.
Kihei Charter School is proud to be the first STEM school in the State of Hawaii. The school emphasizes 21st century skills and blended education. Enrollment for the 2011-12 school year is 546 students. Enrollment has increased every year since the school opened its doors to students in 2001, and the school maintains waitlists each year. KCS is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).