HAAS Students Left Scrambling for Rides to School – Some Kids May Hitchhike to School

On July 11, 2013 Hawaii Academy of Arts & Sciences Charter School principal Steve Hirakami posted a letter to parents and students informing them that their students would not be able to use the Pahoa High and Intermediate PM buses anymore.   Pahoa High and Intermediate had been sharing bus space with HAAS students since there was extra seats available on the buses.

HAAS School Bus Memo

Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science (HAAS) Charter School Principal Steve Hirakami received an email just last Friday August 2nd that stated the following:

“Hi Steve, my official word is that we will not be providing transportation for all public charters schools students who are attending by choice. If a student is programmatically placed at a public charter school then we will provide transportation.” 

HAAS Administration Building

HAAS Administration Building

This has left nearly 60 students at HAAS without a way to school beginning tomorrow morning.

This afternoon Hirakami held a community meeting to inform parents what was going on and what options the school is looking at in the wake of this last minute decision that hasn’t even been finalized by the Board of Education yet.

HAAS Bus Meeting 067

HAAS Principle Steve Hirakami (Middle) talks to the community

HAAS is a unique school and many of the students have special needs where they need to have curb-to-curb transportation.  The real problem seems to lie with the fact that the school was given such short notice and it really took a lot of folks and still is taking folks by surprise.

Councilman Illagan

Councilman Illagan

Councilman Greggor Illagan suggested a meeting between administrators, county officials and state officials to see what could be done.

Senator Hanohano will look into things in Honolulu tomorrow

Senator Hanohano will look into things in Honolulu tomorrow

Senator Hanohano said she was leaving for Honolulu tomorrow morning and would find out what went wrong with things.  There was obviously some breakdown in communication between school administrators and State DOE officials and hopefully things will get worked out in the long run.

Folks discuss ideas

Folks discuss ideas

State Board of Education member Brian DeLima told Hirakami “that this never went before the Board of Education..” and Hirakami asked him how the policy can change without the Board even knowing about it and DeLima said he will find out more about it.

CAN Network representative Tiny Flower

Parent Olivia Cockroft

HAAS Parent and “CAN Network” representative Tyann Flower stated she has been a parent of HAAS students for 6 years and it’s been a long journey and “…for me transportation isn’t really the issue its the blatant disregard of the need that we are providing here that our school is providing to our families and students by just taking something away it affects all of us…”

Concerned folks

Concerned folks

Some folks talked about a class action lawsuit and Hirakami reminded folks that Charter Schools are not allowed to sue the School Districts although he did state that folks can do what they want to and that he himself went to Washington D.C. a few years ago and was able to meet with Ed Case and get more funds for Charter Schools.

As the meeting came to a conclusion still many folks from the audience had questions and concerns while students talked about some of their experiences on the bus including one student stating that he got off the bus and two students from a public school started to throw rocks at him.

A teacher really emphasized the importance of education and getting kids to school safely

A teacher really emphasized the importance of education and getting kids to school safely

There was no definitive answer but some folks thought about things such as using the white state vans as buses however it was explained that for transporting kids to and from school the buses and vans had to be painted that standard yellow school bus colors and equipped with all the lights, blinkers and safety things of a bus.

In the meantime, folks will be carpooling and doing what they can to get their kids to school.  Unfortunately, this decision may lead to many students having to hitchhike to school as some of the HAAS students are already doing.

Countdown: Mars Food Mission Researchers Return to Earth

The countdown has begun.

Six researchers who have spent more than 100 days inside a remote habitat to simulate a long-duration space journey are finally returning to Earth.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

About 700 applicants vied for six spots in the HI-SEAS mission, which began in April and will conclude on August 13.  These Earth-based researchers have been living and working like astronauts, including suiting up in space gear whenever they venture outside a simulated Martian base and cooking meals from a specific list of dehydrated and shelf-stable food items.

HI-Seas Crew Photo by Ian

HI-Seas Crew Photo by  Sian

The HI-SEAS study, led by Cornell University and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is analyzing new types of food and novel food preparation strategies to keep astronauts well-nourished for space exploration.  The work is funded by the NASA Human Research Program.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

The food study is designed to simulate the living and working experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and to compare two types of food systems – crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared – as thoroughly as possible in the context of a four-month Mars analog mission.

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

“One possible solution to handle menu fatigue would be to allow astronauts to cook their own food instead of eating pre-prepared food day after day,” says crew member Angelo Vermeulen, one of the six researchers inside the HI-SEAS habitat, which is located on the Big Island.

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

At the end of the study, researchers will announce the winners of the HI-SEAS recipe contest.  Winning recipes in a number of categories will be featured on the HI-SEAS website.

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

The public is invited to follow along with the “Meals for Mars” videos, researcher blogs, and test recipes featured at http://hi-seas.org/ or on Twitter (@HI_SEAS) or Facebook.