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Catholic diocese plans to build new $12-million high school

To satisfy a need for access on the North Suncoast to Catholic schooling in the higher grades, the diocese is looking at four likely sites.

By KENT FISCHER

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2000


The Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg will build a new $12-million high school in Pasco County, although the diocese has not settled on a location, an enrollment estimate or a school design, according to a spokesman.

The diocese is investigating four possible sites for the new school, which would be the first Catholic high school in the county. Currently, there are three Catholic schools in Pasco that serve several hundred students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

"The diocese builds schools to satisfy a need, and the diocese has decided that (the North Suncoast) is lacking in access" to a Catholic high school, said spokesman Bill Urbanski. "We recognize the need, and once the plans are in place, it'll really take off."

Urbanski said that Pasco students who want to attend a Catholic high school typically travel to Clearwater Central Catholic.

Urbanski would not disclose the possible locations of the new school, fearing that would drive up the cost of the land. The diocese is currently negotiating with several landowners, he said.

Urbanski did say that the new high school would probably cost about $12-million, but could cost "substantially" more if the diocese deems it necessary. He cautioned, however, that such speculation is premature.

"We have a contractor and an architect, and that's all," he said.

If Catholic elementary and middle school enrollment is any indication, there appears to be a sizeable demand for a local Catholic high school, which would likely draw students from Hernando and Citrus counties as well.

The school would be the latest step in a growing presence of Catholic schools in Pasco and Hernando counties.

Two years ago, Bishop Larkin School moved into a new 700-student, $2-million facility next to St. James the Apostle Church off Little Road. Students had attended class in 12 portable classrooms on the grounds of St. Michael the Archangel Church on State Road 52, as well as the parish offices at St. James. The school serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The Notre Dame Interparochial School in Spring Hill debuted its new six-room, $1.5-million school about a year ago. School officials have said they hope to expand the school to 21 classrooms for 400 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

St. Anthony Interparochial School in San Antonio is Pasco's other Catholic school. It enrolls about 250 students, also from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Kent Fischer covers education in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6241 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6241. His e-mail address is kfischer@sptimes.com.

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