11 new public Pre-K classrooms underway, including two on Maui
Eleven new public preschool classrooms are slated to open across the state this August thanks to Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke and the Ready Keiki Initiative. The first 11 classrooms are expected to open this fall for the 2023-2024 school year, enrolling 20 students in each classroom at no cost to parents.
The program is reportedly under budget and ahead of schedule. The plan’s initial timeline wasn’t set to begin renovations or new classroom construction until 2024. Under the Ready Keiki plan, a single classroom renovation was budgeted for $1 million, but the first 11 classrooms will cost under $500,000 each, according to a news release update.
Lt. Gov. Luke, who is leading the Ready Keiki initiative, held the contract signing for the first wave of classrooms at Lincoln Elementary School this week. She was joined by area legislators, Hawaiʻi Board and Department of Education, Executive Office on Early Learning, and Bowers + Kubota — the construction consultant for the classroom renovations.
Lt. Gov. Luke has worked closely with the Ready Keiki partners since the plan was announced in January.
“These first 11 classrooms wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of our early learning partners,” said Luke. “From the counties, state departments, the non-profit sector, and private providers — it really comes down to the right people at the right time working towards a shared vision of universal access to preschool across Hawaiʻi so that our youngest learners can grow and thrive.”
A new website portal readykeiki.org, provides information for families wishing to enroll their keiki in preschool. The site features an interactive map to locate preschools and childcare centers, a live tracker for Ready Keiki funding and classroom status, and enrollment information for the Public Prekindergarten Program administered by the state’s Executive Office on Early Learning.
The creation of the web portal is fully funded by Ready Keiki’s philanthropic partners to showcase the ongoing spending and progress of Ready Keiki and support families seeking early learning opportunities for their children.
“Early learning opportunities yield tremendous short- and long-term benefits for Hawaiʻi and the world our children will contribute to in the future,” said EOEL Director, Yuuko Arikawa-Cross. “With inflation and the cost of living in Hawaiʻi impacting so many of our families, and the COVID pandemic and this recovery period, expansion efforts such as Ready Keiki provide opportunities for working families to sustain employment and find a measure of financial stability.”
“We are grateful to continue our partnership with the Department of Education to open 11 new classrooms this upcoming school year. Upon signature by Governor Green, EOEL will be able to accept three-year-old children, in addition to four-year-old children. Children must be three years old or four on or before July 31 of the current school year,” said Arikawa-Cross.
Priority is given to children whose current situations include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
- Children in foster care;
- Children who are experiencing homelessness or unstable housing;
- Children whose family’s income is no more than 300% of the federal poverty level;
- Children who are experiencing at-risk situations which may impact their development and learning;
- Children who are eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act and whose Least Restrictive Environment is determined as general education; and
- Children who are dual or multi-language learners.
The 11 new public pre-K classrooms will open at the following campuses:
- Hāna High & Elementary School
- Wailuku Elementary School
- Hawaiʻi Island
- Waimea Elementary School
- Kīlauea Elementary School
- Fern Elementary School
- Honowai Elementary School
- Kaʻewai Elementary School
- Lincoln Elementary School
- Pope Elementary School
- Sunset Beach Elementary School
- Wahiawā Elementary School
Applications are open for all 45 partnering preschools in EOEL’s Public Prekindergarten Program, including the 11 new preschools. Deadlines vary by school. Families and caregivers can see these locations and apply via readykeiki.org/apply.
Should families and caregivers have any questions about a public preschool classroom, call EOEL at 808-784-5350.