USACE Progressing on Temporary School in Lahaina

The wind-driven wildfires that devastated Maui left elementary students in the historic town of Lahaina without an elementary school.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers went into action after receiving a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sept. 13 to design and oversee the installation of modular buildings for the temporary elementary school in Lahaina.

“The temporary replacement campus for King Kamehameha III Elementary will be critical in providing our students and staff with a sense of normalcy and a solid foundation for learning and recovery,” said Hawai’i State Department of Education Superintendent Keith Hayashi.

In support of the State of Hawai‘i and the state Department of Education, USACE is providing technical assistance, engineering expertise and construction management for the construction of the temporary campus for students of King Kamehameha III elementary school who were displaced by the wildfires that damaged and rendered the school unusable.

A team of USACE and local leaders meet in the Napili-Honokowai area of Maui Aug. 31 to assess a site for possible use as a temporary school. A school is needed for approximately 700 elementary school students who lost their school to the Hawaii wildfires. Members of the USACE Critical Public Facilities team look over a conceptual layout Aug. 31 while conducting a site assessment on Maui to assist the State of Hawai’i in planning for a temporary school following the wildfires in Lahaina that occurred Aug. 8. (U.S. Army photo by Joseph Paul Bruton)

“This has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects I have ever worked on,” said Elizabeth McCarty, mission manager, USACE Critical Public Facilities Team. “As a former teacher, this mission immediately tugged on my heartstrings.”

One of the first steps was to obtain a contractor who could complete the work within the project parameters. A request for proposal was sent out Oct. 16. USACE organized a site visit with contractors and their sub-contractors to review the site Oct. 22. Proposals were received Oct. 26 and were evaluated for the lowest price technically acceptable offer.

Pono Aina Management, LLC, an 8(a) Native Hawaiian Organization, based out of Waianae, Hawai’i, was awarded a base contract of $53.7 million on Nov. 4 to construct a temporary elementary school campus in Lahaina and was given a Notice to Proceed on Nov. 20.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Recovery Field Office Commander Col. Jess Curry from the Rock Island District and USACE Hawai‘i Wildfires Critical Public Facilities Mission Manager Elizabeth McCarty from the Galveston District address members of the Hawai‘i Finance Committee Oct. 26 regarding USACE plans for construction of a temporary school campus in the Lahaina community. The campus will serve as an interim replacement following the loss of the King Kamehameha III Elementary School in the Aug. 8 wildfires. COURTESY PHOTO

“Knowing that many of the men and women working on this project were directly impacted by the fires makes it even more special,” McCarty said. “I am very proud to stand next to my entire team, my new extended ohana, as the school rises.”

Pono Aina Management and their subcontractors, Goodfellow Brothers, Diversity Resources Group and Willscot immediately went to work. Clearing and grubbing of the site began the day the notice to proceed was issued and was completed Nov. 22. Cutting and grading, which began Nov. 21 is still being completed. Modular units were ordered and are being sent from Oahu, Washington and California with the first units anticipated on-site the first week of December.

“Responding to this crisis has been a collaborative effort with our federal, state, county and community partners,” Hayashi said. “We appreciate the experience and leadership that the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers brings as they guide and oversee construction of this temporary school to serve our Lāhainā community.”

USACE Galveston District is responsible for contract management and project oversite with support from emergency personnel from multiple districts across the globe.

The handover of the temporary school to the Department of Education for furnishing and installation of telecommunication equipment is anticipated to be by the end of February 2024.

“My USACE teammates, the County of Maui personnel, the Department of Education and the contractors all work so well together,” said McCarty.  “Learning more about the people of Maui and thU.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors prepare a site for construction of a new temporary elementary school campus for the Lahaina, Hawai’ieir culture is something that I will take with me forever.”