06 July 2011

Barat Academy to Move?

I have written about Barat Academy in the past.  So, for the record, this post for the record.  There sure seems like there is more to this thing than meets the eye.  

Why a bank would think that an abandoned school building is more saleable than working out an agreement with the school in it is unclear to me.  And I am sure that this situation doesn't give a lot of confidence to prospective students and their parents.

And in a completely unrelated note, why not include the "Saint" in the name of this Catholic school?

From STLToday:

Catholic school says it might have to move

Barat Academy officials said Tuesday night that a court-approved bank eviction notice may force the independent Catholic high school to leave its site along Highway 40 before classes resume Aug. 31.

Debby Watson, the four-year-old school's president, said Barat has made a series of offers to resolve the financial dispute but all have been rejected.

"In this current economy, no property is worth what it had been worth, and the banks won't show our attorney how their appraisals could possibly justify a very high value for the property," Watson said. "There are plenty of other buildings available today that can meet our needs at a much more realistic cost."

Barat officials also said they would continue to try to negotiate a lease or purchase of the campus to allow the school to stay put.

Watson's comments were in a news release issued after a briefing in the school's gym for parents, faculty and staff members. The briefing was closed to the media. The release didn't say what locations might be considered but said the school would remain open.

CP-SPE LLC, which is now controlled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., sued earlier this year because Barat stopped paying its $25,000 monthly rent in November.

Last month the school signed a consent judgment agreeing to pay about $216,000 in back rent and interest. The judgment also gave possession of the property to the FDIC-controlled company. Last Thursday an order signed by St. Charles County Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham said the company could force the school to leave.


Paul McKee Jr., Barat's board chairman, has said the FDIC gained ownership after the failure of Premier Bank in October. He has said Premier owned about two-thirds of the school's debt and the remainder belongs to Enterprise Bank.



Anonymous said...

FWIW, this might be the best thing to happen to Barat, unless there are some folks affiliated with the school who have personal assets at stake.

X said...

Isn't this the school that just a couple of months ago was asking families to pledge some $50,000 each? Do we really need another one of these? This isn't Catholicism it's elitism. It's about making connections and networking for ones economic future. It's a country club masquerading as a religious institution. If you can find even one mildly devout Catholic under 60 who is so because of, not in spite of, having attended Chaminade, Villa, Priory, Viz etc., let me know. I never have.

Anonymous said...

The Barat situation aside, I find the steady stream of comments bashing all of the STL Catholic high schools distasteful. Parents are the primary educators of their children. They always have been. There are good schools here. None of them are perfect, unless there's one I've missed. They will not however make up for the parents' role in raising a child. Don't like them, fine, homeschool or send them to public school or the JP2 Hybrid School. But why bash them with such a broad brush? And BTW, I know of quite a few devout Catholics who went to Villa, CBC, De Smet, etc., and speak very fondly of their education. I guess X and I travel in different circles.

YoungCatholicSTL said...

I'm a DeSmet grad, age 27, and a devout Catholic, at least part of which is due to the Catholic education/atmosphere at DeSmet.

On another note, from what I understand, there's no "St." on Barat Academy for the same reason there is little else in the way of religion there - because public bonds were sold to finance the school, and until those are repaid, they cannot invoke Christianity or any other religion. But again, that's just my rudimentary understanding of the situation, I'm sure there is more to it than that.

Anonymous said...

Barat Academy is an excellent school with an excellent education provided to our children. They just fell into unfortunate times with the opening coinciding with a downward spiraling economy. Despite these difficulties, the board and staff members have worked very hard to keep this school the best it can be. The families who send their kids their are loyal and proud. The religious education is prominent as they take Theology the entire time they are there and have Catholic Mass at least once a month. The values that the Sacred Heart society teaches is to "Love, Learn, Serve, Build and Grow" and these are certainly values that our children have been doing for the last 4 years. They love one another, learn to excel at all they do, serve our community, build friendships and bonds that cannot be broken, and are growing to understand what life is all about. I am proud to send my son to Barat Academy which is so named for Saint Madeline Sophie Barat. Education is about the children and not money. Let's keep a positive attitude and teach our children to live in the Christian way without judging others.

Anonymous said...

I did not attend high school in St.Louis. Whereas, I can see the arrogance many private and even Catholic institutions give off, I can say with certainty that, Barat Academy is not one of those. I was able to attend their annual fundraiser this passed winter and the values of a Sacred Heart education filled the gymnasium. These values, not only religious, but every day values, that children need to have instilled in them, are possible because of Debbie Watson's vision. Her dream, that was able to become a reality when opening Barat Academy.

I am a child of the Sacred Heart. To many, this means nothing. To me. It means everything. I attended a Sacred Heart High School in the Chicago Area. All girls. Because of it's location, in a wealthier suburb, many too saw/see it as arrogant. (I do not come from a wealthy family, I do not come from a poor family. I come from a family that worked hard for what they have, and whose parents sacrificed many of their own wants, to provide a stable and nurturing education to 6 children. Six strong. Independent. Free thinking. Women.)To me, it was my saving Grace. I was a lost soul walking aimlessly through out my life, absolutely defeated. Until my Sacred Heart experience. I became a person. A person of value. A person that could do anything - confidently. With my head held high. I can confidently say, it wasn't a private high school that saved me. It wasn't a Catholic high school that saved me. As, I had gone to private, Catholic schools my entire life. It was the Sacred Heart. A Sacred Heart Education. A Sacred Heart family - that saved me.

Madeline Sophie Barat said, "for the sake of one child." I am that one child. I will eternally be grateful for the opportunities given to me. They tell you through out your education and beyond, 'you always have a home in the Sacred Heart.' Standing in that gymnasium at Barat Academy's winter fundraiser. I felt home. I was that one child. I am a child of the Sacred Heart.

A Devout St. Louis Catholic said...

Barat does not have "Saint" in the name due to the traditions of the Society of Sacred Heart as well as the practice of many other private Catholic High Schools. Barat Hall was once operated as an all boys elementary school by the Society of the Sacred Heart in the Central West End when they operated a school behind the Cathedral on Taylor Street until 1968. Duchesne High School and Villa Duchesne are both named after Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne despite the fact that neither have the word "Saint" in the titles. Vianney has begun marketing itself as "St. John Vianney High School" recently, but for many years it was known simply as Vianney High School. This practice is not unique to St. Louis Catholic high schools. Chicago is home to Loyola Academy (named after St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits), a coed, Jesuit high school with over 1,000 students... Thus, the naming of the school has nothing to do with public bonds or government interference. Barat had the ability to call itself whatever it liked.

One interesting thing to note, however, is that Marquette High School, a public high school in the Rockwood School District, is actually named after a Jesuit priest, Fr. Jacques Marquette, or "Pere Marquette" as he is sometimes called.

And for the record, I was born Catholic, and my years at St. Louis University High brought me much closer to my faith than I had ever been before I attended the school. I tend to think that I was at a place in my life going in to high school where I either was going to step away from the Catholic Church or decide to fully embrace it. I can honestly say that I do my best to go to church every Sunday now that I am in college despite it being somewhat countercultural with my peers.

Anonymous said...

While the author of this blog may know some truths about Barat Academy, they are, however, obviously are not as educated on the school as it may seem. Barat is in fact named after a saint; Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart. While the school is not named "Saint Barat Academy" there are many other Catholic schools that don't include saints' names (Chaminade, Villa Duchene, and DeSmet just to name a few). I also feel that while many people may have some negative feelings towards Catholic education, or even just toward Barat Academy itself, I really don't think that bashing the school is an okay thing to do. The students at Barat LOVE it there. Almost any student you would ask that attends Barat would say that there is no other school they would rather be a part of. As a Barat student, if I had to do it all over again, I would still choose Barat. I would HIGHLY reccommend my high school to anyone and I would love to be able to see my younger siblings, and maybe even my own kids, attend Barat. I hope that somehow, if it is God's will, that this mess clears up and Barat will still be around for many years to come. As for those, now reluctant, incoming and prospective students and parents...please don't give up just yet; have hope and keep faith. Barat is a school community and family unlike any I have ever experienced or heard of before. If the memebers of the Barat community act as even half the amazing people I know them to be, then we will, undoubtedly, come out on top of this situation.

thetimman said...

I don't think I claimed to know a great deal about Barat Academy, which is why I thought the bank's actions here were kind of strange. And I don't know that I bashed the school either, unless wishing that Ste. Madeleine's name were made more explicit in the official name constitutes bashing.

Anonymous said...

The bashing comment was in reference to comments both on this page and other pages and articles; it was not directed to you personally.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, both schools mentioned in the combox as having been named after St. Rose Philipine Duchesne were around for a long time before she was canonized, which was relatively recently.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest here, Barat is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. For those of you bashing on this amazing school, well shame on you. The only reason you are doing it is because you don't want to see a dream come alive. Barat will be one of the greatest things that has happened to the St. Charles Community. We give to the environment, young ones, old ones and love doing it. The students at Barat Academy put so much passion into what they do which is what makes it a great school. For those of you trying to tear down the walls of Barat Academy, the walls never made us, the students did. We're a family, and the building does not define us. Barat Academy has made me a better person. They push us to go way beyond our limits to show us what we are truly capable of. I only wish you could have what I have at Barat.

JBQ said...

Paul McKee is "Mr. Downtown Rehab". He is worth millions of dollars. With all of his economic savvy, it is hard to envision anyone taking advantge of him monetarilly. Therefore, there is no doubt that "there is something else going on". Also, it makes sense that there is no "saint" in the title due to public funding.

Anonymous said...

To send your child to a Christian school is a choice that I am so glad my parents chose for me over 40 years ago. Yes, parents are the most important role model as far as Christian development,but when children get Christian instruction on a daily basis in school the level of Christian development is increased. Parents are so busy that I am so at peace knowing my three children are growing up with Jesus being taught in school on a daily basis. I pray more Christian parents will see the importance of Christian education and choose that path for them. I pray Barat will survive despite all the financial problems