Public school enrollment down

  • Kealakehe High School students leave school Thursday afternoon. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Kealakehe High School students leave school Thursday afternoon. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Public school enrollment on Hawaii Island declined for a third straight year, according to data recently released by the Department of Education.

Enrollment in public schools on the Big Island for the current 2022-23 school year was 22,945, down from 23,113 in 2021-22 and from 23,164 in 2020-21. Enrollment reached a high of 23,411 in 2019-20 before the onset of the pandemic.


The largest loss of students over the past year on the Big Island was reported in the Hilo-Waiakea Complex, which saw enrollment drop by 142 to 7,568 followed by the Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex, which saw its student population decrease by 31. The Ka‘u-Keaau-Pahoa Complex saw a slight increase from 5,679 in 2021-22 to 5,684 this year.

Hawaii Island’s largest public school for 2022-23 school year remained Kealakehe High School, which has an enrollment of 1,450 students, followed by Hilo High School with 1,317 students. Not far behind Hilo was Waiakea High School with an enrollment of 1,297 followed by Keaau High School with 1,046 students.

Statewide, enrollment for the current school year is 168,634, which is down 1.7% from the year prior, and marks the fourth straight year of decline across the state. In 2018-19, the state reported an enrollment of 179,698.

Of the over 168,634 students enrolled statewide, 156,518 students attended public schools while 12,116 attended one of the 37 charter schools operating in Hawaii. Hawaii Island’s public charter school enrollment in 2022-23 was 4,158.

“The declining trend in enrollment counts over the past four school years reflects Hawaii’s overall declining birth rate over the last decade,” the DOE said in a media release. “Department data also show that families’ leading reason for removing their students from public schools is for relocation to mainland states.”

The figures include students enrolled in schools and the state distance-learning program.

The Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, which provides data on private school enrollment, has yet to release its report for the 2022-23 school year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email