Prekindergarten classrooms available this fall


A new program developed jointly by the governor’s Executive Office on Early Learning and the state Department of Education will allow families to enroll children who are at least 4 years old in one of 21 prekindergarten classrooms at 18 public elementary schools across the state this fall.

In West Hawaii, the prekindergarten program will be offered at Honokaa Elementary, Hookena Elementary, Ka’u High & Pahala Elementary, Konawaena Elementary, and Naalehu Elementary.

The program is intended to serve 420 children who qualify based on income — eligible for free- and reduced-price meals — and age requirements. For the 2014-15 school year, children must be 4 years old on or before by July 31 — following the new kindergarten age requirement — and priority will be given to children born on or between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009.

This is the first time Hawaii has designated state funds for prekindergarten education, joining 41 other states that already do. The Legislature provided $3 million in supplemental budget for only 21 of the 32 classroom by the Abercrombie administration. The majority of the classrooms are on the neighbor islands and in rural areas.

Executive Office on Early Learning worked closely with DOE to create the program infrastructure and will provide the support needed to ensure children leave the program will the skills needed to be successful in kindergarten. Classrooms will be staffed by DOE teachers and educational assistants. Executive Office on Early Learning will offer early childhood education and development expertise and training.

Selection of the classrooms was based on: Title I status, limited preschool capacity in the community such as in rural areas, available space at schools, currently operating DOE prekindergarten classrooms with funding that is about to end, and the interest and willingness of principals to work with Executive Office on Early Learning on implementing a quality programs.

Student application packets will be available at the respective school offices. The first deadline to submit an application is May 30. For more information, visit earlylearning.hawaii.gov.