Kindergarten Cutoff Date Fallout - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kindergarten cutoff date fallout

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HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now)- A big school shake up is brewing in the fall. The cutoff to enter kindergarten will be moved up five months, while junior kindergarten is cut completely.
 
We checked in with KCAA pre-schoolers to learn more about the effects the change will have on early education. The 4 year olds are on their way to being kindergarten-ready although some late born children in the class will now have to wait an extra year to start.
    
That's part of the growing pains as the State phases out junior kindergarten, and moves up the kindergarten cut-off 5 months from December 31st to July 31st.
 
"Right now it looks like there will be about 5-thousand children who won't be able to enter kindergarten next fall" according to Christina Cox, President of KCAA Preschools of Hawaii and Liaison for the Childcare Business coalition, representing 60 centers on 4 islands.
 
Cox says providers such as KCAA and Seagull Schools can handle extra students, but parents may not have the money to pay for preschool. The average cost is close to $700 per month. She adds, "What we're really concerned about is the families that haven't gotten the word yet and who don't usually take advantage of center based programs and just walk into kindergarten next fall."
    
The shift is due to the 'School Readiness bill' signed by Governor Abercrombie in June. Right now, less than half of Hawaii children attend preschool. Cox believes, "The great equalizer will probably be some form of state funded preschool."
 
Hawaii is one of 11 States without a state-funded early learning program. 6 and a half million will subsidize preschool for 900 children, with plans to expand enrollment with more funding down the road.
   
Back in June, the Governor said, "That's not enough, but that's alright. That's not a complaint that's a promise."
 
An early education promise that'll help give more children a chance to learn skills needed to succeed in school, and life.
 
For comparison sake, Punahou is now sorting through applications for its competitive kindergarten class for next school year. The Admissions office tells us it has received close to 600 for 150 openings, at 20-thousand a pop.
 
For information about Preschool tuition assistance through the Preschool Open Doors Program, call 791-2130 on Oahu or toll free at 1-800-746-5620 for Neighbor Islands. You can also go to www.PatchHawaii.org
 
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