Kamehameha Schools taking applications

Preschool applications are being accepted for the 2014-15 school year, Kamehameha Schools announced.

The application deadline is Jan. 31. Families must be Hawaii residents.

With the elimination of the state Department of Education’s junior kindergarten program, Kamehameha Schools has changed its preschool age entry requirement.

Now, new students applying for preschool must be 3 years old by July 31, 2014, to be eligible for the 3-year-old program, and 4 years old by the same date to be eligible for the 4-year-old program.

“Since approximately 80 percent of our Kamehameha Schools preschoolers matriculate into public schools and the minimum entrance age for public kindergarten is 5, roughly 40 percent of our preschool keiki will not have the minimum age requirement to enter the public kindergarten program,” said Terry Kelly, director of the schools’ Community Based Early Childhood Education Department. “The 40 percent would be left without structured educational programming with the elimination of the junior kindergarten program. In light of this change, we will apply a new preschool entry age requirement this coming school year which will ensure our present and future preschoolers aren’t left in a bind after aging out of the 4-year-old program.”

The schools will create a 5-year-old program to accommodate those children who will complete the 4-year-old program in 2015.

Those families will have an option to enroll in the 5-year-old program before they are eligible for public school kindergarten in 2016.