St. Francis School of Manoa will close all grade levels at the end of this school year.
The announcement was made today by Sister Barbara Jean Donovan, General Minister of the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities, who are based in Syracuse, N.Y.
“This is very sad for all of us and it has been the most heart-wrenching weeks and months of planning,” said Donovan. “… Simply put there is not enough money to continue.”
St. Francis’s board of directors announced on Jan. 7 that grades 7 to 12 will close. At the same time, the board said that an effort would be made to reopen preschool through grade 6 in August. A decision on the future of the lower school was to be announced next month.
But Donovan said it has already become clear that critical enrollment goals will not be met. She said it made sense to notify families now so they can make alternative plans.
Donovan revealed that for the last several years the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities have subsidized Saint Francis School, something they can no longer afford to do.
She said the actual cost of educating a student at Saint Francis ($18,000) is substantially higher than the school’s tuition rates ($9,000 to $13,000), which were among the lowest charged by any private school in Hawaii.
The fact that Saint Francis, through its mission to help the less fortunate, also offered 60 percent of its students tuition assistance compounded the school’s financial difficulties.
The Sisters of St. Francis opened the school in 1924 to train young women as nurses, honoring the work of Mother Marianne Cope, Hawaii’s second saint.
It was originally licensed by the Territory of Hawaii as St. Francis Training School.
She said there will be a celebration of Saint Francis’s 95 years of service to the families of Hawaii on a date to be announced in the spring.