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Hawaii expanding few preschool options at public schools

August 6, 2018

HONOLULU (AP) — The state is expanding free preschool programs at public elementary schools on four Hawaii islands.

The new pre-kindergarten classes are available at Kalihi Uka Elementary and Kailua Elementary on Oahu, Kilohana Elementary on Molokai, Kohala Elementary on Hawaii island and Kula Elementary on Maui, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

“Hawaii is one of the last few states to really adopt a public prekindergarten program,” said Lauren Moriguchi, director of the Executive Office on Early Learning, which was created in 2012 and launched public prekindergarten in 2014.

This year is the first expansion. “We are doing it slowly to make sure that we are doing it right,” Moriguchi said.

Families with lower incomes will be given priority, but others will be allowed, including students outside the school districts.

There will be 20 students per classroom, and there is space for 520 kids in 26 classrooms statewide this year.

The new classes mean there are now 24 campuses with preschool supported by the state Executive Office on Early Learning.

Less than half of Hawaii’s 3- and 4-year-old children attend preschool or nursery school, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT Databook.

The average yearly price for full-time preschool tuition is $9,500, or nearly $800 a month, according to the University of Hawaii Center on the Family. That’s nearly the equivalent of in-state tuition at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The state-funded program is separate from the federally funded Head Start program for disadvantaged children and public preschool for students with special needs.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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