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Call it Catholic School 2.0

For generations, Catholic schools tended to operate independently as part of a local parish's mission. But in the Tampa Bay area, the Diocese of St. Petersburg has begun what might be called Catholic Schools 2.0 — an update of the traditional model. Seven of the area's "elementary schools" — K-8 — have joined together under one superintendent.

This means that while these schools retain their feel and character, many administrative functions have been consolidated under the diocese to save costs. So far, the only Pinellas school to make the change is Sacred Heart in Pinellas Park.

The effort is part of a five-year plan by the diocese to preserve and strengthen Catholic schools in the face of significant challenges, including declines in enrollment, religious staff and revenue.

Superintendent Alberto Vazquez-Matos said the process will continue in coming years. So far, no schools have closed in the restructuring. But with changing demographic trends, it's possible.

Schools in the diocese attract Catholics, but "we also have non-Catholics who believe and value Catholic education," he said. The schools also tend to have more lay teachers.

The economy has not made it easy for parents to afford a private education, but Vazquez-Matos said $1 million has been raised for tuition assistance. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which pays private school tuition for qualifying low-income students, also has allowed more families to send their children to Catholic schools, he said.

Catholic schools in Pinellas County

Blessed Sacrament Catholic School

11501 66th Ave. N, Seminole; (VPK) K-8; (727) 391-4060; bsschool.org

Clearwater Central Catholic High School

2750 Haines Bayshore Road; 9-12; (727) 531-1449; ccchs.org

Cathedral School of St. Jude

600 58th St. N, St. Petersburg; early childhood 2-4 (VPK), K-8; (727) 347-8622; cathedralofstjude.org/

school-home

Espiritu Santo Catholic School

2405A Philippe Parkway, Safety Harbor; early childhood 3 and 4, K-8; (727) 812-4650; escschool.org

Guardian Angels Catholic School

2270 Evans Road, Clearwater; (VPK), K-8; (727) 799-6724; gacsfl.com

Holy Family Catholic School

250 78th Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; early childhood center 2-4 (VPK), K-8; (727) 526-8194; holyfamily-school.com

Morning Star Catholic School

4661 80th Ave. N, Pinellas Park; special education; (727) 544-6036; morningstarschool.org

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School

730 San Salvador Drive, Dunedin; early childhood 4 (VPK), K-8; (727) 733-3776; myoll.com

Sacred Heart Catholic School

7951 46th Way N, Pinellas Park; early childhood 3 and 4, K-8; (727) 544-1106; shsaints.org

St. Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School

1350 Court St., Clearwater; (VPK) preK-8; (727) 461-1200; st-cecelia.org

St. John Vianney Catholic School

500 84th Ave., St. Pete Beach; early childhood 4 (VPK), K-8; (727) 360-1113; sjvcs.org

St. Patrick Catholic School

1501 Trotter Road, Largo; early childhood 3 and 4, K-8; (727) 581-4865; stpatrickcatholic.org

St. Paul Catholic School

1900 12th St. N, St. Petersburg; early childhood 3, K-8; (727) 823-6144; stpaul1930.org

St. Petersburg Catholic High School

6333 Ninth Ave. N, St. Petersburg; 9-12; (727) 344-4065; spchs.org

St. Raphael Catholic School

1376 Snell Isle Blvd. NE, St. Petersburg; early childhood 4 (VPK), K-8; (727) 821-9663; straphaelschool.net

Call it Catholic School 2.0 01/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 5:20pm]
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