History of Gateway MST Elementary
A court order dated August 4, 1988, directed that three new St. Louis Magnet Schools be constructed in the Math-Science Technology Cluster. Two of the schools were to be Gateway Elementary with 574 students, which include 66 students from Gateway Michael, the section for the Orthopedically Handicapped and Gateway Middle with 690 students. The court directed that the two schools be built “as a magnet school park on the north side.” The court further stated that, “The Gateway schools are so designed because St. Louis is the Gateway City and these schools are envisioned as ‘gateways to the future’ for students in the metropolitan area.”
The court order further directed that the school district provide planning grants to local institutions for the purpose of curriculum and staff development and program implementation for the new schools recommended by the order. Harris-Stowe University was selected as the grant recipient for the Gateway Elementary and Middle Schools. The college submitted its proposal in May of 1989, outlining curriculum plans, staffing, facility and site needs. The City of St. Louis became enjoined with the school district in identifying and obtaining a site. After considerable effort and court intervention, the old Pruitt-Igoe site at Jefferson and Carr was obtained in June of 1993.
As magnet schools, the complex was to be attractive to both city and county parents and students of all races. Students attend magnet schools by choice, thus the aspect of the school being desirable and attractive in its curricular focus, physical structures and outdoor environment cannot be over emphasized.
In a separate court order, based on a request by the Tenant Affairs Board (for public housing), the court ordered that 12.5% of the student seats in Gateway and Gateway Middle be set aside for neighborhood residents. This is the only one of the school district’s magnet schools with this set aside. In these schools, as in all magnet schools, siblings of children already enrolled in the schools have priority for enrollment in the schools. Students in magnet schools are enrolled based on application and successful completion of a lottery held each year. Admission to the magnet schools is not based on aptitude or test scores, except for the two gifted magnet schools that utilize test scores for screening and admission.
Since the construction and operation of the Gateway Schools was a part of the desegregation remedy, the court order specifies that the State of Missouri was responsible for paying 71.5% of the construction and operating costs, while the school district was responsible for 28.5%. The court also made the City of St. Louis a part to the case in order to deal with the interface surrounding neighborhood.
Located at #4 Gateway Drive, Gateway MST Elementary opened on August 18, 1995. Gateway is situated on approximately 18 acres of the Pruitt site, which constitutes the southwestern portion of the former Pruitt-Igoe Public Housing Project site. It is located east on Jefferson Avenue around the 1200 and 1300 blocks in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Gateway is bounded by Jefferson Avenue, O’Fallon Avenue, 22nd Street, DeSoto Park and St. Bridget’s Church. Jefferson Avenue is the main vehicular access and provides the most visibility.
Based on recommendations from Harris-Stowe University during construction, Gateway was conceived to be an outdoor laboratory where students could experience and gain understanding of the sciences, math and technology curriculum. Gateway is programmed to contain living, constantly changing, interactive educational tools, including the following features:
- Pond (Walden Pond)
- Gottingen Woods
- Natural Grassland (Gateway Prairie)
- Salisbury Crag
- Castlewood Bluff
- Carver Vegetable Garden with Fruit and Nut Trees
- Preschool/Kindergarten Play Areas
- Math Playground
- Physics Playground
- Weather Station
- Geodetic Marker
- Solar Collectors (Passive and Active)
- Astronomy Center
Sculptures: Windmill, Waterwheel, Sundial, Season Indicator
Sports Field, Hard Surface (Readily Accessible for Handicapped), Grass
In addition to the above educational requirements, the Gateway Complex must accommodate the separate busing and parking needs of each of the three schools in the complex.
The classrooms in the schools are grouped by grade level. The elementary school is one distinct portion of the building and the middle school is the other. The elementary school for the medically/physically involved is located with Gateway Elementary, while the middle school for the medically/physically involved is located with Gateway Middle.There are several spaces in the facility that are used for combined use. For example, there is one kitchen for Gateway Elementary and Middle School, with adjacent cafeteria space . The cafeteria is also used for community events. The double-station gymnasium for each school is placed adjacent to each other with movable walls between to allow for combining the gyms into one large space. The library space is combined to eliminate duplication in book collections, thus allowing for a larger range of publication. The greenhouse is placed in a convenient location for use by both the elementary and middle school levels. The special features on the grounds are readily available for all students at the site.