KĪHEI – The long-awaited Kūlanihāko‘i High School campus is anticipated to open in mid-January 2023. This new campus will give South Maui communities their own state-of-the-art high school facility after decades of having to commute to other parts of the island. South Maui students historically have attended Maui High School in Kahului or Baldwin High School in Wailuku.
Kūlanihāko‘i High's opening is contingent on final construction-related inspections, which are expected to be completed during the first half of the month. A tentative opening date of Jan. 18, 2023, has been set for Kūlanihāko‘i’s first freshman class to transition to the campus. A formal opening ceremony and blessing will be scheduled.
The school, which sits on land mauka of the highway, anticipates receiving temporary certificates of occupancy to allow the school to open based on a pedestrian safety plan that includes crossing guards at the new Kūlanihāko‘i Street traffic roundabout and school-operated shuttles for students walking to and from school until the crossing is completed. The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education is committed to building a grade-separated pedestrian crossing — such as an overpass or underpass — across Piʻilani Highway, a condition imposed by the Land Use Commission in 2013. Construction is estimated at three to five years, pending project funding.
The state Department of Transportation expects to complete construction on the traffic roundabout fronting the campus in January. The two-lane roundabout is designed to force approaching vehicles to reduce speed and includes raised crosswalks, signage, and Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons to alert drivers when pedestrians are crossing the street. Motorists are asked to slow down in this corridor and drive with caution while familiarizing themselves with the roundabout traffic pattern.
Kūlanihāko‘i High opened to its first ninth-graders in August 2022 at a temporary site on nearby Lokelani Intermediate School’s campus while this phase of construction (Phase II) was completed. Phase II includes the upper campus, with administration, classroom, library and cafeteria buildings, along with physical education locker rooms, a playcourt, temporary playfield and open spaces. The $120 million campus includes sustainability design features to maximize natural lighting and reduce energy consumption, such as large window walls, high curved ceilings and rooftop airfoils that will help to direct winds through classroom buildings to provide natural ventilation and reduce heat buildup.
The school plans to add an additional freshman class annually until grades 9 through 12 are fully implemented in the 2025-26 school year, allowing the school to gradually hire staff to accommodate all grade levels. At full capacity, the campus is designed for an enrollment of 1,600 students.