St. Anthony restructuring; new head of school sought

St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School is accepting applications for a newly created head of school position, part of an effort by the 160-year-old private Catholic school in Wailuku to restructure its operations to boost enrollment and remain fiscally sound.

St. Anthony School Board Chairwoman Catherine Nobriga Kim also dispelled rumors of the closure of the grades-7-to-12-school, which experienced declining enrollments during the recent difficult economic times, saying categorically: “The school will not close.”

“We are ending this fiscal school year with a balanced budget,” she added.

In fact, Nobriga Kim, a 1974 alumna, is heading up a committee to oversee restructuring plans with a goal of growing enrollment and building “financial security.”

Besides Nobriga Kim, the panel includes county Corporation Counsel Pat Wong, firefighter Robbie Spenser, a 1977 alumnus; and retired businessman Dale Webster.

“We look forward to building upon the school’s history of high academic standards and creating an environment that allows students to thrive and prepare for a challenging future,” said Nobriga Kim in a news release.

In addition to assessing the school’s needs, a key piece of the panel’s work will be to oversee a search this summer for a head of school, who will oversee campus management and operations. The newly created position will focus on the management and the fiscal operations of the school “and can take the vision of teachers and put it into action,” said Nobriga Kim in an interview Wednesday.

“In today’s world, a school has to function as a business, regardless if it’s public, private or religious,” she said. “Creating this position will help us strengthen the school.”

In the restructuring, the principal’s role will focus on the curriculum, ministry and student activity functions. Pat Rickard, principal for the last three years, will continue to hold the position and also will be academic representative to the board, the news release said.

For the head of school, candidates must have strong educational and administrative experience, Nobriga Kim said.

And while candidates do not have to be Catholic, they have to “believe in our philosophies” and have a strong background in Catholicism.

The only Catholic high school on the island was founded by three Marianist brothers and “whatever we do . . . we maintain our Christian identity in the Marianist spirit,” Nobriga Kim said.

“It identifies us and has been the cornerstone of our education on Maui,” she said.

The school would like to have the head of school on board by the beginning of the new school year on Aug. 1 but will not be limited by the deadline, Nobriga Kim said.

“We are going to do a search, and we are going to do it well,” she said, noting that the restructuring panel has already received one inquiry.

Nobriga-Kim said that this will be a nationwide search with the school putting notices in publications statewide and in “Family Life,” the Marianist publication.

St. Anthony’s new governance structure, which has the blessing of diocese officials, will align with Hawaii Catholic Schools’ System for Success model, Nobriga Kim said. The model aims to increase student enrollment, adopt 21st-century learning methods and implement marketing strategies that include community partnerships, interactive participation with vicariates in the Diocese of Honolulu and overall improvement of school operations, the news release said.

“The St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School board has received permission from Bishop Larry Silva to amend its board constitution to include a head of school/principal administrative model and the establishment of a new governance committee,” said Hawaii Catholic Schools Superintendent Mike Rockers. “This governance committee will provide leadership to promote the positive school restructuring for the school to move forward.”

St. Anthony Junior Senior High School has faced challenges in recent years with the addition of Kamehameha Schools Maui, which siphoned off students, and the Great Recession, which likely forced some families unable to afford tuition to send their children to public school instead.

Tuition for the next school year will be $11,000 for high schoolers, $9,050 for 8th-graders and $8,050 for 7th-graders, she said.

School enrollments that surpassed 200 students five years ago dropped to a low of 142 students in the 2009-10 school year, Nobriga Kim said.

Enrollments have been improving since then. Last school year, the enrollment was 156 students. The school is still accepting students for the upcoming school year but is looking at an enrollment of 162 students.

“We are going up,” Nobriga Kim said about enrollment. “We are getting up there slowly but surely. We just want to speed that up.”

She credited school officials, parents and the community for helping the school end the year with a balanced budget. The school obtains its revenues through tuition and two fundraisers – with one scheduled for Saturday. Nobriga Kim also said that the school receives support from the diocese.

The diocese provides tuition support for families through its Augustine Educational Foundation and, once a month, island Catholic churches seek donations from parishioners in second collections during Mass for tuition assistance for students wanting a Catholic education.

For more information about the head of school position, call Nobriga Kim at 442-3403 or send email to

Saturday’s fundraiser, the school’s 23rd Ho’olaulea, will run from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $45 in advance, $50 at the door and $15 for children ages 11 and younger. Tickets may be obtained by calling 244-4190.

For school registration information, call 244-4190 or go to the school’s website at

* Lee Imada can be reached at