HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) - Governor Neil Abercrombie calls the 'school readiness' bill the most important legislation of the session.
Parents in Hawaii pay an average of 640-dollars per month to send their child to preschool.
The Governor requested 32 million to pay the way for 35-hundred students, but had to settle on a scaled down, smaller rollout.
Governor Abercrombie joined with new preschool graduates from Seagull Schools to sign the State's school readiness bill. It was punctuated by a smiley face.
Senate bill 1093 will set aside 6 and a half million dollars for the 2014-2015 school year to subsidize preschool for 9-hundred children.
According to the Governor, "That's not enough. But that's alright. That's not a complaint that's a promise."
Less than 48 percent of Hawaii's children now attend preschool. According to Executive Office on Early Learning Director Terry Lock, "Hawaii is one of 11 that don't have a state funded pre-school program so this is a start and we can really keep up with other states going forward."
Teachers and students rallied at the capitol this session to expand the 'Preschools Open Door' program.
Senator Jill Tokuda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education said, "Thank you for making sure these kids are ready for kindergarten. These kids are ready to succeed for anything that we put before them. That's what this is all about."
Representative Takashi Ohno used to teach at Fern Elementary and saw students falling behind already by third grade, specifically talking about some who would have benefited from a public preschool program. "Student from KPT that could have used other experiences as a child that told her that she could succeed" says Rep. Ohno.
"It is a civic sin to allow some children to fall behind" said the Governor. "That's not the way of aloha. We need to reach out to all families to see to it that they have the opportunities."
The State hopes to expand one day to all children so they can get the same start in life as Seagull's new grads.
The Department of Human Services will oversee the 'Preschool Open Doors' program. It's now run through PATCH.
Priority will be given to low income students and those who don't meet the new cut off age for kindergarten.
The goal is to enroll 17-thousand 4-year olds by 2021.
Read more about Preschool Open Doors at this link: