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Public school enrollment drops with kindergarten age shift

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Enrollment at Hawaii public schools dropped slightly this year, mostly due to a later entry age for kindergarten that took effect this school year.

Overall enrollment at the state’s 255 schools and 34 charter schools fell by about 2 percent to 180,895 students, compared to last year, according to the Department of Education.

Kindergarten enrollment declined by 4,400 students under a new law requiring children be 5 years old by July 31 — instead of Dec. 31 — this year to enroll in kindergarten. The state this year also eliminated junior kindergarten, which had been accommodating so-called late born children at some schools.

The number of students in grades 1 through 12, meanwhile, collectively increased by 823 students over last year, the DOE said.

The five largest DOE public schools by grade level include:

>>High schools: Campbell (3,024); Waipahu (2,494); and Farrington (2,417).

>>Intermediate/middle schools: Mililani Middle (1,766); Kapolei Middle (1,435); and Waipahu Intermediate (1,281).

>>Elementary schools: August Ahrens (1,320); Holomua (1,264); and Ewa (1,143).

The state’s public charter schools saw an enrollment gain of nearly 6 percent over last year, topping 10,000 students with 10,413.

The DOE says it anticipates future increases in enrollment due to higher birth rates. Enrollment is expected to grow by about 500 students next school year, and by more than 1,100 the following year.

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