Gateway Academy in Chesterfield to close at end of school year
by Jesse Bogan
ST. LOUIS • Gateway Academy, a private Catholic school in Chesterfield that had hopes of staying open despite the financial troubles of its major funder, will close at the end of the school year.
"Unfortunately, a combination of the current economic environment and the diminished financial capacity of the Legion of Christ proved to be more than we could overcome," school leaders said Thursday in a prepared statement.
Though founded by locals in 1992, the Legionaries of Christ ran the school for years. But the order, recently affiliated with 10 schools nationwide and scores more around the world, has been struggling through the recession and amid revelations of child abuse by the order's founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado. Though there have been no allegations of sexual misdeeds in Chesterfield, the order said it could no longer support the school. Still, there was an agreement that the Legionaries would pay the debt on the building, at 17815 Wild Horse Creek Road, through next school year. Financing could be secured through only December 2011.
"We can't start a school knowing that we can only stay in the building for half of next year," said Steve Notestine, a board member. "We thought it was necessary to make this decision now so our parents could make plans for their schooling next year."
He suspected that many of the 160 students, pre-K through 8th grade, would go to parish schools in west St. Louis County. The high school closed in 2009 for lack of enrollment.
One parent at the school said the timing of the announcement couldn't be worse, coming as many private schools are completing their enrollment decisions for next year.