By Wendy Osher
Prekindergarten Classes will be available at 18 public schools this fall, including Hāna, Lānaʻi, and Kaunakakai Elementary Schools in Maui County.
The new prekindergarten program is for 4-year-olds, with most located on the neighbor islands in rural areas.
State officials say the program is aimed at serving 420 children who meet income and age requirements. Income guidelines limit the program to those who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals.
The new prekindergarten program was developed jointly by the governor’s Exeutive Office on Early Learning and the state Department of Education.
“We are on our way to creating access to early learning for our children statewide,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie in a press release announcement. He said the partnership, “is an important part of our vision to prepare as many 4-year-olds as possible for kindergarten. It is a key component of the mixed-delivery system of public and private providers that has worked for many states, and that I believe is best for the future of Hawaiʻi’s keiki.”
According to Abercrombie, the prekindergarten program was made possible through a $3 million appropriation provided by the legislature in the state’s supplemental budget.
Application packets are due by a May 30, 2014 deadline and are available at school offices participating in the prekindergarten program.
State officials note that for the 2014-2015 school year, children must be 4 years old on or before July 31, 2014 in order to qualify for state kindergarten programs, with priority given to those born on or between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009.