Let’s Build A School!

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family.”  — Kofi Annan.

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Our last update in November indicated how much we had moved forward in this process of building a school.  We continue to move forward steadily and we are making strides in various areas. 

It has always been our intention to create a community-centered school where our children can thrive and learn the values we cherish while studying an exceptional curriculum based on their individual passions and talents. To that end, we hired consultants Jennifer Luck and Kapua Chandler to create and implement a plan to engage our community and gather information to accomplish this task.  Three public Listening Sessions were planned to bring community members together and share ideas. We call them Listening Sessions because that is our goal: to listen to the people whose children will be attending this school. The first session, scheduled for Sunday, February 10 in Ha`ena, had to be postponed due to weather, but it will be rescheduled soon! Listening sessions in Hanalei and Kilauea were held in late February.  If you missed a Listening Session, please take our survey and sign up for our email updates.

There are many components in building a school. Right now, our Steering Committee and its subcommittees are looking into each element from necessary environmental and traffic studies to required infrastructure to the history of the land usage in the Wai Koa area. Our facilities committee is actively engaged in talking with various professionals to determine the next steps in designing the school. Our fundraising subcommittee is researching grant and private funding and determining the next steps to move us forward into the capital campaign. As we begin to flesh out the needs and desires of the community, we will firm up plans in both facilities and curriculum development.  This, in turn, will inform the amount of funds we will need to complete the build, hire the School Leader (Principal), and hire teachers and staff. No hand is idle in this effort.  

We created a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to provide basic information about the charter school. 

Of course, things will change along the way, and as they do, we will record them here and send out email updates to those who subscribe to our mailing list.

Our community is important to us and we invite everyone to share their ideas, hopes, and dreams for an outstanding tuition-free public charter school that serves our North Shore residents. 

Quick Facts

Structure: Tuition-free public charter school
Grades Served: 7th through 12th
School Size: 350 students
Location: Wai Koa Plantation, Kilauea
Campus Size: 8 acres
School Model: Community-based, student-centered focus with an emphasis on personalized learning.
Charter Application: Submission planned for the next application cycle.
Target Opening: Planned between Fall, 2021 and Fall, 2023.

We invite you to become involved in our efforts. You can reach us at letsbuildaschool2@gmail.com or fill out our Volunteer Form to find out how you can help!  

Big News for our Let’s Build a School Initiative — May, 2018

We are on the precipice of realizing a dream. In 2015, we formed a working group of dedicated individuals who are fully committed to establishing a tuition-free public school on the North Shore that will serve grades 7-12.  

What We’ve Been Doing

While we’ve been rather quiet about our “Let’s Build a School” initiative, our team has not been idle.  We’ve spent the last three years working hard behind the scenes to bring the dream of a North Shore secondary school into existence.  However, despite our growing numbers of students and our petitions, letters, and demonstrated community support, our efforts to convince the DOE to build a secondary district school in our community have fallen on deaf ears.  

Where does that leave us? The only alternative for a tuition-free school that can serve all of our students regardless of their means is a public charter school.  Charter schools in Hawaii are, by definition, public schools (see the video link below for more information). Charter schools are free for all students and are funded by the state on a per capita basis (about $7,200 per student).  Charter schools are not part of the Department of Education, they are concept/idea driven and have their own governing boards. They are required to hire union teachers but are free to develop their own curricula and educational methodology. In short, they have a high degree of independence as long as they meet state standards.

We believe we can establish a high performing charter school on the North Shore that has the capacity to be a stellar educational institution.  Our approach to creating a North Shore charter school has been linear and measure. We canvassed this community to judge the desire and support for this project which was overwhelmingly positive. We did a deep dive into the type of educational experience we believe will resonate with our students and our community.

We entered the XQ Super School Challenge to re-imagine public high schools and spent 9 months developing a dream school for the North Shore.  Out of over 700 entries, we made it to the semi-finals. Our ideas were sound, what we lacked was a place to build this fabulous dream school.

What We Want  

We want learning modalities that resonate with 21st-century kids—academic programs that inspire and motivate the desire to learn.  

We want students to understand how to find solution-driven answers to real-world issues and questions.  

We want personalized learning because the research shows that is what works best for our kids.

So, we researched our options for operating this type of school and have come up with two viable options so far:

  1. to become part of an expansion of an existing charter school that has experienced great success here in Hawaii.
  2. to work within a network of schools operating internationally.  They will help us with our own independent charter application, planning, hiring, staffing and initial years of operation.

Both of these high-performing academic models bring strong skill sets to the table which will suit our community well.  We are still in our “due diligence phase” and will make decisions within the next several months as to which model will be the best fit for us.

What We Need

We have taken a long hard look at facilities.  The state provides approximately $7,200 per student but no money for facilities.  In order to remain as measured and practical as possible, we decided to minimize our facilities costs in the startup years.

We prepared a preliminary analysis of the costs that takes us to open the doors for a North Shore charter school.  Please click here for the handout that gives you a breakdown of the anticipated costs.

We are ambitious and plan to open between the fall of 2021 and the fall of 2023. With your help, we can do this and finally bring our North Shore kids the thing they deserve most: a tuition-free, public charter school.  

To date, we have been an all-volunteer group but we have gone as far as we can go.  It’s time for us to hire the professionals we need to make this happen.

We need engineers, architects, lawyers, and consultants.  

Then, we need to build the facilities that will house our school.

This is why we need your help.

We divided our fundraising goals into three phases:

  1. seed money/startup costs
  2. capital campaign for facilities
  3. furnishings and fixtures

What We Have (The Big Reveal)

On May 24th, we held a cocktail party at the lovely Naylor home to announce our plans and our biggest news to date. After hearing about our project, everyone asked, “where are we going to put it?”

We now have the answer:

Joan Porter has generously gifted us 8 acres of land for the purpose of building a tuition-free public charter school. Bringing a secondary school to the North Shore that all children can attend regardless of their ability to pay has long been the Porter’s intention. 


We are on our way to realizing our dream!

Schools serve as anchors for communities and enrich the lives of all their citizens.  

We all benefit from a well-educated population.

We are all well-served when we serve the promise of education.

We ask you to help support the kids of this community, the “true north” of our North Shore society.  They are our future and it is our moral obligation to take the steps necessary to give them the opportunity to be well-educated.  

We care about sustainability

We care about environmental responsibility

We care about having a well-educated community that can take care of itself.  

Help us build that school.  

It’s a big need, a big cause, and we hope you will help and give big.  

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do and now is the right time to do it.  

This is an opportunity to invest in the future of our beautiful North Shore.  

It’s a gift of forever.

Be a proud part of forever!

It’s a gift you will forever treasure giving! 

Please consider donating to our cause now!


Mahalo Nui Loa, Joan! We are grateful beyond words for your generous gift of land for our school.

Thank you, Joan, for this incredible gift of land.  

Thank you all for helping us make this dream a reality.


*For more information on charter schools in Hawaii, please click here to watch the video.

If you’d like to be a part of our efforts, please email us at letsbuildaschool2@gmail.com

Please also visit and “Like” our Facebook page.