Private school rolls drop, forcing teacher layoffs


POSTED: Tuesday, July 21, 2009
This story has been corrected.  See below.

The recession has caused a decrease in enrollment and staffing at a number of private schools in Hawaii, especially Catholic schools.

Saint Louis School, with grades five through 12, has laid off 10 to 12 teachers and a similar number of administrative staff for 2009-2010, said school President Walter Kirimitsu.

“;We're definitely impacted. ... This school year is the worst we've had in the last five years,”; he said. “;We're trying to make the best of it.”;

Kirimitsu said projected enrollment is 630 students, compared with 670 students last year.

At Damien Memorial School, no teaching positions remain open following a consolidation after five positions became open, and enrollment is expected to drop to 460 students from 535 students, school President Bernard Ho said.

Ho said the school has received major contributions from foundations, but the contributions have not been enough to make up for the income loss in some families that have had to withdraw their children.

“;Frankly, its not sufficient for many families when they lose their job, but it's helped,”; Ho said.

Ho said the school has also implemented a salary freeze.

At St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School on Maui, several teachers have been laid off, and the football program, which included students from a couple of other private schools, has been discontinued due to a decrease in the number of players.

School Athletic Director Charles Pico said he is trying to see whether there is interest in playing eight-man, instead of the regular 11-man, football, since his program has 17 students interested in playing.

A number of private schools said more students are applying for financial aid—this at a time when donations are generally shrinking.

“;We are working overtime to find ways to assist families who document the need for assistance,”; said Joshua Clark, admission director for Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island.

Clark said his school is seeing about a 2.5 percent decrease in enrollment but will not have the final numbers until the first day of school.

Mid-Pacific Institute President Joe Rice said his school has been able to increase enrollment and hire a couple more teachers, but students' financial needs have grown. “;A lot more students have applied for financial aid,”; he said.

Hawaiian Mission Academy interim Headmaster Hugh Winn said some students have worked in maintenance jobs during the summer to defray the cost of tuition.

Ho said part of the school's mission is to help students who come from poor families and give them a quality education. He said the school has consolidated some classes and frozen salaries but not laid off people.

“;We have to work harder at getting funding,”; he said.






Damien Memorial School said it has no teaching positions open following a consolidation after five positions became open. A story on page 6 Tuesday said five teaching positions remain unfilled.