Hawaii public schools are seeing a decline in the number of students enrolled in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program in the past two years following a drop in enrollment and the opening of more charter schools, reports the Honolulu Advisor. Enrollment at public schools dropped from 181,000 to 171,000 in the two years between the 2005-06 and 2007-08 school years. Last year, 68,833 students received free or reduced lunches, down from 72,100 the year before.
Some of those missing students have enrolled in charter schools in the interim, but accounting changes in the past few years mean charter schools are not counted in the state Dept. of Education rolls because they have their own food service and apply for meal subsidies that are then given directly to their food service program. The Education Dept.’s Charter Schools Administrative Office said it did not have information on the number of students enrolled in the federal lunch program, according to the Advisor.