Schools offer aid, discounts to St. Francis students left scrambling for options

Schools offer aid, discounts to St. Francis students left scrambling for options
Many private schools like Honolulu Waldorf are offering application waivers to St. Francis students.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Private schools are offering deals to families of more than 300 St. Francis middle and high school students left scrambling after last week’s sudden announcement that middle to upper grades would end.

“Basically we heard back from almost all of our admissions directors that they would accept late applications and waive application fees for any St. Francis student. That includes our big schools like Punahou and some of our small schools as well,” said Philip Bossert, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools executive director.

On Monday, Damien Memorial School offered to match tuition for 48 St. Francis juniors and offer them a dual St. Francis/Damien diploma.

“We were focusing on the hurt that a school closing does to a family and to students, especially the students in grade 11,” said Brother Brian Walsh, president and CEO of Damien Memorial School.

Meanwhile, Honolulu Waldorf School is also offering to match tuition and waive application fees, which among private schools can be $50 to $100.

“We hope that we can draw some people in and help them find a new place because it’s pretty hard on this island to find yourself a new school once it closes,” said Hillary Godwise, of Honolulu Waldorf School.

While St. Francis preschool and elementary school will remain open for now, officials say enrollment of its 130 students needs to increase.

But the unsettling news apparently isn’t sitting well with some families.

The Hawaii Association of Independent Schools says three private elementary schools have already been contacted by St. Francis families about transferring.

In Hawaii, 22 private schools have shut down since 2006.

But private school enrollment remains steady — at about 16 percent of school-age children.

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