A network of Catholic schools in Pinellas County makes up the biggest school system outside of the public schools. The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg operates 15 schools in Pinellas — 12 for prekindergarten through eighth grade, two high schools and one school for students with special needs.
Catholic schools have shrunk or closed in other communities but appear to be thriving in Pinellas. Clearwater Central Catholic High School accepted a larger freshman class than intended this year — taking 150 students, instead of 125 — and still had a waiting list. In his blog, president John Venturella said he expects the same next year.
Catholic schools offer some of the same special programs popular in public schools. Clearwater Central Catholic High has an International Baccalaureate program and a rigorous college prep program with a global view, while Saint Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School in Clearwater and St. John Vianney Catholic School in St. Pete Beach offer IB programs for middle school students.
Many Catholic schools have open houses listed on their websites for the 2015-16 school year. The Catholic schools in Pinellas are: