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Kids wait to enter Kauai preschools


LIHUE » Repeal of a junior kindergarten program and a change in age requirements for entering kindergarten are contributing to a shortage of open slots at Kauai preschools.

The preschools are reporting long waiting lists, the Garden Island newspaper reported.

"I’ve never seen it this bad," said Val Rita, director of A Room to Grow Preschool in Lihue. "I know in Lihue and Kapaa, in particular, there are a lot of preschools with waiting lists. Now that the law has gone into effect, parents are getting desperate. I’m getting a lot of calls from parents of 4-year-olds that don’t have any place for their children to go."

Her school has a waiting list of almost 60 students, she said.

The repeal of the state junior kindergarten program was signed in 2012 and took effect at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Children who turn 5 after Aug. 1 will be unable to enroll until fall 2015. Children previously could enter public school if they were at least 5 before Dec. 31.

My Growing Place preschool co-owners Tricia Padilla and Deanna Kanehe in Kilauea said they receive calls to enroll daily.

"We have 80 kids on a waitlist right now that don’t have a place to go," Padilla said.

They testified last week before the Kauai Planning Commission, seeking a permit to open a second preschool.

Brooke Hemingway has four children, including three under 5. The Wilcox Memorial Hospital nurse says she’s worried about them getting a quality early learning experience.

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