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Private school in Galt closing Friday

Enrollment plummets to below 30 students

GALT – Sauk Valley Christian Academy is closing.

The last day for students at the private, nondenominational school, formerly known as Sterling Christian School, is Friday, Principal Paul Rowe said Monday.

He declined to give a reason for the closure. He said the board had not given him permission to say anything.

Board President Roger Young also declined to explain the closure. He promised to share more with Sauk Valley Media after Jan. 1. But after a reporter told him the newspaper planned to publish a story announcing the closure, he said he would have no further comment.

The school, 5505 Anne St., has fewer than 30 students, down from more than 40 last year. It employs seven staff members, including Rowe, who started last fall, and four teachers.

The school also operates a thrift store, Stage Two Resale Shop, 225 First Ave., Rock Falls. The store will remain open, Rowe said.

Its proceeds will continue to benefit the school, said Agnes Pilaitis, a store employee.

Sauk Valley Christian Academy, founded as Twin City Nazarene School in 1978, has dealt with declining enrollment for several years.

At one time within the past few years, the school had 101 students, according to the now defunct website for Sterling Christian School.

At the start of the past school year, there were 57 students, according to Sauk Valley Media archives. By the end of the school year, it had 43, and this school year, it has just 27.

The school laid off three full-time and two part-time teachers before the start of this school year, according to SVM archives. It also eliminated classes for freshmen, sophomores and juniors; six seniors are finishing high school.

Rowe told Sauk Valley Media in August that the economy was to blame: Parents cannot afford tuition, which is $4,200 a year for K-12 classes.

Tuition at the school is higher than that at Newman Central Catholic High School in Sterling ($3,900 for one student) and at St. Andrew Catholic Grade School in Rock Falls ($2,400 for one student).

In October 2011, when it changed its name, the school was on an upswing. Enrollment was up about 10 students. It added a pre-kindergarten program. Officials talked about adding sports teams.

Rowe and then-board president Lyle Dettman told Sauk Valley Media the school was in no danger of closing.

“We’re positive the school is not going to close any time soon,” Dettman said then. “We’re blessed. We’re just going to leave it in God’s hands and keep going.”

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