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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, January 31, 2003

Age change sought for kindergartners

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Find bill online

• More information is available on the legislative Web site: www.capitol.hawaii.gov

Lawmakers are again considering changing the minimum age to enter kindergarten, a proposal some say makes sense in theory but opens the door to other problems.

Senate Bill 17 would require children to be 5 years old before Oct. 16 for the 2005-06 school year and before Aug. 1 beginning in the 2006-07 school year. Currently children in kindergarten need to be 5 by Dec. 31 of the school year.

The concept of the bill is based on the premise that children should receive age-appropriate education and that they be ready for a school environment.

But while many who testified on the bill Wednesday said they supported its intent, they raised concerns about what would happen to the thousands of children who would be barred from beginning kindergarten because they are born later in the year.

Department of Education officials said such a measure would affect about 3,000 children in the 2005 school year and 5,000 children in the following years. Some also had concerns about how the change would affect low-income families that cannot afford childcare or preschool. In addition, they stressed the need for more available public early-education programs.

The Senate Education Committee will make a decision on that bill and others on Monday.