St. John the Baptist Honolulu

Catholic school in Honolulu is closing after 60 years

June 18, 2020
Church officials say the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated enrollment declines at St. John the Baptist School.

St. John the Baptist School in Honolulu, Hawaii, is closing after 60 years because of plummeting projected enrollment in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that enrollment at the school had already fallen to “dangerously low levels” over the past five years.

St. John the Baptist had 107 students in preschool through eighth grade this academic year, according to Parish Administrator Diego Alejandro Restrepol. That’s a 40% drop over five years. And projections for this fall were even bleaker.

“Our problem was the coronavirus pandemic, because for this coming year we only have about 55 students interested in coming back to the school,” Restrepol says. “We cannot work it. After planning the budget I find a deficit of $100,000 and it’s too much. Our financial situation was terrible but worsened a lot with this pandemic.”

St. John the Baptist is the third Catholic school in three years to close its doors in Hawaii. Last May, Saint Francis School shut down after nearly a century. The previous May, St. Anthony School closed up shop after enrollment dwindled to 76 students. Cathedral Catholic Academy shut down in 2016.

But one historic Catholic school just got a reprieve. In Hilo, the 151-year-old St. Joseph School came to the brink of closing at the end of this school year but has raised enough money to keep going.

St. Joseph is the only Catholic school on the island of Hawaii, with 283 students in preschool through 12th grade. Last month it announced that it needed to raise $500,000 quickly or it would shut down, facing substantial debt. The community rallied to save it.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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