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Posted: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 11:38 AM HST

Hawaii gov signs early childhood education bill

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a bill expanding early childhood education.

The governor signed the bill Monday at Washington Place surrounded by preschoolers. He says it's most important piece of legislation this year.

It expands the state's existing Preschool Open Doors program to help prepare 4-year-olds for school. Priority will be given to underserved or at-risk children.

It also covers a gap for children who are no longer eligible for public kindergarten the year they turn 5 because of a change in the eligibility date.

The bill funds $1.2 million in administrative cost and $6 million in subsidies to help 900 children.

Abercrombie originally sought more than twice that amount to help thousands of kids who will lose services when the state's junior kindergarten program expires.

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