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/
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