A decade after Queen Lydia Liliuokalani Elementary School closed its doors because of low enrollment, the ripple effects the closure had on the greater Kaimuki neighborhood can still be felt by longtime residents.
The 99-year-old school served as a meeting place for the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board, which no longer has a regular meeting site. It hosted annual public celebrations of Queen Liliuokalani’s birthday. Nearby residents used the basketball courts during off hours.
“I’m still upset about it,” said Lyle Bullock, a former neighborhood board member whose daughter was attending the school when it closed. “Not for me personally, but for the community.”
It’s been years since the state has taken steps to shutter a school, but difficult decisions like the one made in Kaimuki may lie ahead for other communities if public school enrollment continues to decline.
If current projections hold true, by the 2027-28 school year Hawaii will have fewer students enrolled in state-run public schools than at any point since 1962.