Saint Francis School parents ‘praying for a miracle’

St. Francis School parents ‘praying for a miracle’

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Saint Francis School parents are praying for a miracle that somehow the Catholic school in Manoa will find the money to stay open.

Others are upset that the school’s decision to shut down grades seven through 12 wasn’t announced sooner.

"This being the beginning of the year, you want to start doing those things sooner rather than later, and if you’re going to transfer, getting records to the new school, it’s a lot of work and we just got the information. So, we’re really concerned, are we going to have enough time?” said Lynn Cuthrell, who’s son is a junior at the school.

Cuthrell’s son Luke has been attending the school since sixth grade. She said the thought of him transitioning now or not being able to graduate with his friends is devastating.

"Junior year is a big year for any high schooler and to start thinking about your career, your colleges, where you’re gonna go to, so that kind of shifts our thinking right now,” Cuthrell said.

At a meeting on campus Wednesday afternoon, parents got to ask questions first hand. It was the first time parents could ask school officials questions face to face since the abrupt announcement on Monday.

Many parents were seen leaving the meeting early, shaking their heads in seemingly dissatisfaction, others saying it was “contentious.”

Randall Yee, chairman of the school’s board of directors said the school simply doesn’t have enough finances to stay afloat and they told parents as soon as they could.

“We replaced our head of school in June with Dr. Casey Asato and we understood that there were going to be a lot of changes that were going to happen which we thought were going to be positive changes for the school. But unfortunately, with any change, there was a bit of a drop of enrollment,” said Yee. “So, it started to become apparent really only toward the later part of last year.”

Right now, tuition at Saint Francis ranges from $9,000 for elementary school students to $13,000 for high school students.

Preschool through sixth grade will remain open for now and Yee said tuition will become a flat rate of $12,000.

Yee said if enrollment targets aren’t met, an announcement will be made by March 31 on whether the school will be forced to close entirely. He said the target enrollment number for those grades is 150.

Saint Louis School released a letter Wednesday night saying the school would like to help the young men by “waiving all admissions application fees and SSAT testing requirements for Saint Francis School students."

Saint Louis School letter regarding Saint Francis School closing grades seven through 12
Saint Louis School letter regarding Saint Francis School closing grades seven through 12

Saint Andrew’s Schools and Mid-Pacific Institute are also waiving its application fees and SSAT test results requirements.

Yee is hoping at least returning students will re-enroll.

“We absolutely need their support by re-enrolling their child. We understand it puts them in a difficult place," he said.

Alumni will get a chance to meet with school officials at the school’s gym on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

There will be a school fair at Saint Francis School on January 19 where other schools will talk with students and parents about enrollment options. The fair will be from 9-11 a.m.

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