An Oahu private school, getting a failing grade in finances, turns to its former students for help.
St. Louis School has gone through numerous changes over its 167-year history. At one point, it had students in grades one through twelve. At another, it was made up of high school and college students only.
Until recently, many young men were eager to get into the school, like Garet Saki, who was a Crusader more than a decade ago.
"When I went to school athletics was a big thing. It was also an opportunity for a good education and a way to tap into the network of alumni," said Saki.
According to alumni and administrators, the appeal of St. Louis School is not as strong as it once was. Students have more choices educational choices so schools face more competition.
"When I was here in the 70s, we had dozens less private schools to choose from, home-schooling was virtually unknown, and charter schools didn't exist," said P. Gregory Frey with the St. Louis Alumni Association.
"We are all losing enrollment. Enrollment is becoming an issue and as enrollment drops financial challenges become a lot more intense," said St. Louis Principal Pat Hamamoto.
This year enrollment dropped to only 540 boys, but Hamamoto says the school needs at least 580 just to break even. So St. Louis is turning to its alumni association for help. The association has been asked to co-sign a $5.2 million loan which would be used to retire the Crusader's captial improvement debt.
St. Louis also needs another $2 million line of credit to keep the school afloat for the next year.
The approval would use the alumni's clubhouse and rental income as collateral and a backup to repay the loan. There would be a lot riding on the deal, but for Saki the investment in St. Louis would be worth it.
"Definitely, because the same opportunities that were around when I went to school I would still want to be there for future students at the school," said Saki.
Some of the borrowed money could go to finish a new weight room and renovate two aging buildings. There are even big plans for a new athletic center on campus.
Even with the financial hardships facing the school, the plans include the Crusaders being a part of the community for a long time to come.
"St. Louis will be here tomorrow and in the future. This partnership is how we can expand and explore how to reach out to the community and provide opportunities for these young men," added Hamamoto.
The school alumni will get a chance to vote whether to approve the school loan and line of credit next week at a special meeting.