- Associated Press - Monday, April 7, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - Most of Hawaii’s larger private schools are planning tuition increases of between 3 percent and 7 percent this year as more schools are seeing a rebound in enrollment.

Tuition at Iolani School, Mid-Pacific Institute and Punahou School will hit the $20,000 mark for the first time, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday (http://ow.ly/vwyNB ).

Officials at schools that are raising tuition cite higher personnel costs, though they say they’re trying to keep increases minimal.

“The majority of the increase is so that we can attract, retain and support the best teachers we can,” said Punahou President Jim Scott.

Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea remains the state's most expensive private school. The school passed the $20,000 mark several years ago. High school tuition for day students next school year will be $23,100, a 3.6 percent increase.

Island Pacific Academy in Kapolei will reduce tuition by 5 percent. Saint Louis School in Honolulu will keep its tuition flat.

About 17 percent of school-age children attend private schools in Hawaii, nearly twice the national average. Nationally, private school enrollment dropped sharply in 2009, then started to climb back in 2011.

“After years of growth, there was a lot more fluctuation in the years immediately following the recession - more than we’d ever seen before - and now enrollment has stabilized and we’re starting to see an uptick,” said Myra McGovern, spokeswoman for the National Association of Independent Schools.

Clare Hanusz said tuition costs are one reason her family decided to pull their 12-year-old son out of Mid-Pacific starting next school year.

“Cost is a part of it,” Hanusz said. “We don’t think a private school education is essential to get a good foundation in life, and I know that runs counter to how a lot of people think, especially here in Hawaii.”

“We feel our children can get a good education at a public school,” Hanusz said.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com