Sunday, April 22, 2018
Education

Pasco's Classical Prep charter school delays opening for a year

One of two planned new Pasco County charter schools won't be opening in the fall as planned.

Classical Preparatory Academy has requested a one-year delay before its debut in order to secure an optimal location, said founder Anne Corcoran, a local lawyer and wife of state Rep. Richard Corcoran.

"We decided to give it another year to go through our facilities options in more depth," said Corcoran, who is considering sites along the State Road 54 corridor. "The facility is so important. We don't want to be moving every year."

In postponing, the school gets an added benefit of another year to seek a federal charter school grant to support its non-staff expenses. The school applied for an award this year but was denied.

Nancy Scowcroft, the Pasco County School District's charter schools supervisor, praised Classical Prep for its willingness to defer its start date to ensure it has all it needs for proper operations.

"That shows great judgment and a true desire to be educating their kids as best they can," Scowcroft said.

Classical Preparatory Academy had targeted opening in August with up to 254 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, with plans to expand over five years. Its curriculum focus will be Western civilization, philosophy, logic and related topics, alongside the standards mandated by the state.

Corcoran said the school will continue to plan for its first class over the next year. It has already hired a headmaster, who will serve as a consultant beginning in the summer until the first students arrive.

"I wouldn't say we're freezing anything. All the work we've done is helpful for the next year," Corcoran said. "It gives us a little more time to get it perfect for when we open. We're really excited about it."

The school, which originally included House Speaker Will Weatherford as a board member, won approval in October after filing its second application. The School Board rejected the first request as incomplete a year earlier.

A second new charter school, which will serve students with autism, remains on schedule to open in the fall, Scowcroft said.

Florida Autism Center of Excellence will be run by Orlando-based Quest Inc. The group rescued a struggling charter school for students with autism in Tampa after that school's original management firm looked to pull out. It decided to expand into Pasco County because of demand.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

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