NEW PORT RICHEY — Want to buy a high school, cheap?
An anonymous user posted a Craigslist ad early Monday offering Pasco County's Gulf High School for the bargain price of $500,000.
"A lack of funds has made the final decision in the closing of this Public school located in New Port Richey, FL," the ad states. "The Pasco County School System will use the money from the sale of Gulf High school to better educate the rest of the Pasco schools."
It listed the school's phone number for contacts — "serious inquiries only."
Principal Kim Davis chuckled, though, as she fielded a handful of calls, mostly from friends of the school who wanted to play along with the joke.
"Cash up front. No down payments," said Davis, who worked on the assumption that the ad was a senior prank.
Officials in the district's new construction department broke into laughter as they learned of the ad during a meeting Monday about plans to build a new high school in Wesley Chapel. The cost for that campus is projected at about $63 million.
Collecting half a million for Gulf High, built in the mid 1960s, wouldn't help the district much, said Ray Bonti, who oversees the district's operations.
"I haven't been to Walmart lately, but I think that would be inexpensive, even there," Bonti said. "It sounds like a very creative teenager or mom."
Construction director John Petrashek noted the ad contained many details, such as cafeteria capacity, and photos, suggesting that someone had done their homework.
"I hope that's their senior project, because they did a nice job," he said, saying the ad made his day.
After the school had the ad pulled down, senior Tanner Abbott admitted on Facebook to creating it.
"I just figured I would do something harmless that would make people laugh," Abbott told the Tampa Bay Times, adding that principal Davis high-fived him and he didn't get in trouble.
Later in the afternoon, perhaps hoping to cash in on the attention, someone from nearby Fivay High School posted a similar gag ad on Craiglist. Abbott's take on that attempt?
"I thought it was very lame," he said. "They should keep it original and try something new."
The Fivay ad sought the highest bidder. The one for Gulf had stated it would close Wednesday. But don't look for any real deals.
"We have some surplus property," planning director Chris Williams said. "But Gulf High is not on the list. . . . And Fivay isn't on the list, either."
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.