HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This year's kindergarten class is the smallest in years because of the state's new enrollment cutoff for public schools.
An entire KCAA Mother Rice preschool class is made up of late born children who did not meet the new kindergarten cutoff date.
KCAA Preschools of Hawaii President Christina Cox told Hawaii News Now, "We have added 3 classrooms throughout the system and the other multi-sites I've spoken with have done similar things."
The DOE predicted the end of junior kindergarten and earlier birth date requirements would leave a gap group of 5,000 students statewide.
The numbers ended up slightly higher. Kindergarten enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year was 10,860.
That's roughly 5800 fewer kindergarten students than the past two classes of 16,000 plus students.
HSTA President Wil Okabe responded, "Definitely has a very big impact on the parents. We're looking at 5-6 thousand who won't be able to go to school this year."
The Hawaii State teachers Association plans to push for a bill to restore junior kindergarten.
Currently, about half of Hawaii's 4 year olds do not attend any preschool, with tuition averaging more than 650 dollars a month.
In Okabe's words, "The most neediest families are not able to send their kids to a private preschool."
The Preschool Open Doors program received 1796 applications for tuition help this school year. 1116 accepted assistance.
Cox said, "We serve about a thousand children a year. At any point in time, about 300 of them are on some type of subsidy."
The early childhood education debate will shift to the ballot box in November.
A constitutional amendment asks voters if the State should be allowed to fund private providers to give more children in Hawaii a chance to attend preschool.
Hawaii is one of 12 States that doesn't offer State-funded Pre-K.
On the other end of the spectrum, more than 50,000 4 year olds in New York City started their first day of free, city run pre-kindergarten on September 2nd.