St. Charles Community College [SCC] has purchased the former Barat Academy building and campus in Dardenne Prairie to continue and possibly expand its nursing and health programs.
The SCC Board of Trustees agreed on Dec. 5 to pay $9.45 million to Lindenwood University to buy the 69,000-square-foot building and 28-acre site located just north of Interstate 64.
SCC has been offering nursing classes at the site – known as the Nursing & Allied Health Center – since 2013, under a $175,000 per year lease agreement with Lindenwood.
About half of the facility houses the college’s programs, Todd Galbierz, SCC vice president of administrative services, said in an email.
“Owning the entire facility will allow for program growth in the areas of allied health and workforce development programs,” Galbierz stated. Other course offerings also are expected to be available.
The purchase is the latest chapter in the property’s evolving story, which began when it opened as a private, independent Catholic high school in 2007. Barat Academy moved to Chesterfield in 2011 after being evicted for failing to pay its rent. Lindenwood bought the building and campus for $8.1 million in 2012. In 2013, Lindenwood and SCC announced a partnership that placed both schools’ nursing programs under the same roof at the site.
School officials said at the time that they hoped the Dardenne Prairie location would become a nurse training epicenter in St. Charles County with some SCC students moving on to Lindenwood for bachelor’s degrees and partner hospitals using the center’s facilities to train new recruits.
However, in 2015, Lindenwood officials moved its nursing program back to its St. Charles campus. They said the move arose from the consolidation of the university’s School of Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science with its School of Nursing and Allied Health Services. Meanwhile, SCC continued to hold classes at the center with its lease set to run out in August 2017. SCC officials said that, at that time, they considered moving their nursing program back to college’s main campus in Cottleville.
“After considering multiple options, a decision was made to purchase the building, allowing the nursing program to remain,” Galbierz stated.
John Bookstaver, SCC vice president for academic and student affairs, said the demand for nurses and other health care professionals remains high in the area. More space at the center will allow for growth and help expand and enhance partnerships, he added.
About 400 SCC students are enrolled at the center. That may grow by about 200 students soon, Bookstaver said, as new programs help to grow enrollment.
A concern, at the time that Lindenwood left, was the fate of “virtual hospital” training centers built at the Dardenne Prairie location. SCC was awarded a $1 million grant in 2010 to pay for the improvements. The training facility includes four state-of-the-art simulation labs, including ones for birthing, pediatric, medical and surgical care. Bookstaver said the center has four virtual hospital bays and has plans to expand to up to 10 bays.
Meanwhile, recent discussions regarding the property and nearby athletic fields continues, with SCC officials saying that they may work with Dardenne Prairie in “developing a partnership.” The campus property provides the only nearby parking for athletic events held on adjacent city athletic fields along Dardenne Creek.
The city and a private group supporting cricket teams entered into an agreement where the group would pay for several cricket pitches, or fields, despite uncertainty about whether nearby parking at the center would be available. The 28-acre property also has its own athletic facilities.
“There is interest from both parties to work together in helping meet the needs of the community,” Galbierz said. “We look forward to continuing those conversations.”