tampabay.com

Courthouse studied for new role

Officials want to know if the building downtown can be a high school.

By LETITIA STEIN
Published February 23, 2007


TAMPA - Hillsborough school officials are conducting an environmental study to see if they can turn a historic federal courthouse into a small high school downtown.

Within a month, they expect to learn whether it's feasible to proceed further, said Cathy Valdes, the district's chief facilities officer.

She had no information to share about potential costs and cautioned that the concept is just being explored.

"It's not every day that you have the opportunity to perhaps acquire such a wonderful facility," she said. "We hear all the time about the need to look at schools differently in the urban area."

The school district envisions a high school for about 1,000 students that could draw from across the county. Valdes said the school could share athletic facilities with another campus in the area.

The federal courthouse has been the focus of a number of ambitious plans since it closed in 1998. So far, all have fizzled.