Ranks of young
school-age kids decline

Among states, Hawaii has
relatively few children age 5 to 13

The number of elementary- and middle-school children in Hawaii continues to decline, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today.

The decline in children age 5 to 13 follows a national trend, but the drop is much sharper in Hawaii. Their numbers declined 5.5 percent to 143,522 last July from 151,841 in April 2000. The national decrease in the same period was 1.8 percent.

The percentage of children age 5 to 13 compared with the overall state population has dropped to among the lowest in the country.

In 2004, elementary- and middle-school children in Hawaii represented 11.4 percent of the population, the ninth lowest among all states and the District of Columbia.

The state Department of Education uses population estimates and other factors to determine how it will allocate school resources.

Starting in 2006, the department will employ a new student-weighted formula that allocates funds according to enrollments and individual students' special needs.

Hawaii's high-school-age population (14 to 17) also followed the national trend as it increased between 2003 and last year. But the rise to 66,412 was less than 1 percent over five years.

Last year, children age 14 to 17 represented 5.3 percent of Hawaii's population, the second lowest in the country.

State statisticians attribute the drop in Hawaii's elementary- and middle-school children to decreased birthrates between 1990 and 2000.

One possible reason is that older immigrants are coming into Hawaii, said Eugene Tian, state research and statistics officer.

Another reason is that Hawaii's 65-and-older population is growing more quickly than other age groups.

The population trends for school-age children follow public school enrollments of the past five years.

In the 1999-2000 school year, 132,431 children were enrolled in grades K-8 in public schools. For the current school year, 127,424 are enrolled.

In state public high schools, 52,605 children were enrolled in the 1999-2000 school year. This year, 54,473 are enrolled.

U.S. Census Bureau

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