ST. LOUIS -The Archdiocese of St. Louis announced plans to close Rosati-Kain High School and St. Mary’s High School at the end of this school year.
St. Mary’s school officials said they are surprised and disappointed. Adding that, they plan to meet with alumni and business leaders to possibly form a Catholic high school independent of the Archdiocese. One of St. Mary’s most prominent graduates is former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
“Over the past several years, the leaders of these two schools have been in conversation with the Archdiocese discussing enrollment trends, revenue issues and building status,” said Father Chris Martin, vicar for strategic planning. “So, these are not decisions that were made overnight. This was over a course of several years of conversations.”
The Archdiocese said they are working to help families in these schools find the best fit for their students so that they can continue their Catholic education at a different institution next school year. Families of students at these institutions were notified about this development earlier this week.
“We are grateful to the faculty, parents, alumni and former staff at these two schools that have carried on the tradition of Catholic education in these communities for generations,” said Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski.
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis is committed to providing a strong Catholic presence in the city of St. Louis, and we believe our remaining schools will continue to serve this mission,” Rozanski said.
Rosati-Kain enrollment dropped to 187 this year compared to 249 last year, with freshman class numbers in the 30s. St. Mary’s enrollment dropped to 222 students compared to 271 from last year, according to the Archdiocese.
“We don’t have the same population in the city, let alone total in St. Louis, as we used to,” Todd Sweda, senior director of the Office of Education and Formation and superintendent for secondary education, said. “We’re also dealing with population across the board — most Catholic high schools are not at capacity.”
School officials and parents said closing the two Catholic schools will be a great loss for the entire community.
“We have a significant footprint in this area that cannot go away and if it does, the results are going to be bad,” said Mike England, president for St. Mary’s High School.
A teacher from Rosati-Kain said they enjoyed educating the young girls at the school.
“It has been my absolute privilege and honor to educate these young women. This was special,” said Sarah Moore. “I would not have stayed here my entire professional career if this placed weren’t so special.”
Both high schools have needed financial assistance from the Archdiocese for several years.
“The current high school situation is a result of long-term trends, and out of justice to our families and teachers, we need to address it in a more immediate time frame as the rest of the process continues to unfold,” Father Chris Martin said.
These high schools have a long history, and Sweda hopes that will be celebrated throughout the rest of the school year.
“The issues that have brought us to this day don’t negate the wonderful work that has been done over the years,” he said.
Rosati-Kain was founded in 1911 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet. It was the first St. Louis high school to integrate in the late 1940s. St. Mary’s opened in 1931, but was first called Southside Catholic High School. It was opened by the Christian Brothers. The Marianists took over just two years later.