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Plans move forward for private school

Backers of a new private high school in Lutz expect to accelerate plans for the school this year, satisfying what they say is a great need for an alternative to public schools in the suburbs.

They plan to choose a site for the school by late March, said Tampa lawyer Stanford "Sandy" Solomon, who initiated the project. He and other board members plan to have curriculum outlines and a mission statement available by February.

Solomon said the school is still scheduled to open in the fall of 2000 with a ninth grade and possibly a 10th grade, with plans to grow to 600 students. It would be the first private high school in Tampa's rapidly growing northern suburbs.

Backers of the new school say it meets the needs of many suburban parents, who want an alternative to public schools but who don't want to make a daily commute to the south Tampa private schools.

Four private schools in the northern suburbs have been collaborating on the project, including Carrollwood Day School, the Hillel School of Tampa, Independent Day School in Carrollwood and the Academy at the Lakes in Land o' Lakes.

The cost of getting the school up and running is estimated at $20-million. The backers of the project estimate they will need up to 60 acres for the school.

The group hopes to have a gymnasium, theater and technology and science labs. They say the staff will include teachers specializing in areas such as chemistry, physics and foreign languages.

Solomon said the response to the school has already been "tremendous," with dozens of people inquiring about the school.

"There's no doubt that this will be successful," he said.