TEMPLE TERRACE — A new $20 million charter high school that is scheduled to open next summer in Temple Terrace will have a familiar name attached to it.
Dr. Kiran C. Patel High School, a 57,000 square foot building named after the local cardiologist and philanthropist, will boast an 11,000 square-foot gymnasium, movable walls, and a project-based curriculum when it opens for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
It will house grades nine and 10 before higher grade levels are added in the next few years, said Kavita Jain, president of the board of the Patel Institute for Innovation.
The nonprofit will oversee the school, which was granted a charter by Hillsborough County Public Schools.
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The school's opening will be the culmination of a four-year journey for Jain and her husband Ash Bagdy. When the pair searched for a high school for son Harsh, they couldn't find one that offered the qualities they desired.
But disappointment soon gave way to motivation after a casual kitchen table conversation with Patel, a long time friend.
"Once we had done our leg work, we approached him," Bagdy said. "He has given back beyond our imagination."
Bagdy's enthusiasm proved to be a perfect match for Patel's vision for the school.
"We needed someone who is dedicated and believes in the project," he said. "I could see the passion (Ash) had."
This is Patel's second venture with a charter school. In 2001, he and his wife, Pallavi, donated $450,000 for a permanent campus for the USF/Patel Charter School, a joint venture with the university. It opened in 2003 but merged five years later with Pizzo Elementary after its Board of Directors relinquished the school's charter following years of academic struggle.
That experience did not quell Patel's desire to again sponsor a school.
"I believe the best gift you can give to anybody is education," he said. "Once you educate a child, then you can break the cycle of poverty."
The high school will be successful thanks to both the financial and human "capital" invested into it, Patel said.
The next step was to find a site for the school and Temple Terrance proved to be the ideal location, Bagdy said.
"Given the (curriculum) model…we felt that the Temple Terrance location has a lot of businesses nearby and we could tap into Moffitt, USF," he said. "Everybody's a stone's throw away."
Like most county schools, students will take the traditional courses of math, science, and English. But the curriculum is project-based learning and will require students to work both individually and in teams, Jain said.
Additionally, students will work on community problems, such as helping revive a local business that may be operating at a loss, Bagdy said.
Both students and the school community will be invited to offer input on what they would like to see at the school, including extracurricular activities and clubs, Jain said.
The school will take on about 300 students in its first year. It's expected that Patel will hit its maximum of 600 students when it adds on grade 12.
Enrollment will be done based on a lottery. Applications for enrollment are live on the school's website as well as a job description for principal at www.patelhighschool.org.
The announcement and groundbreaking have drummed up interest with several applications already submitted, Jain said.
The school is more than dream come true – it's a gift to the community, Bagdy said the school represents more than just a .
"This is our way to give back to the community," he said.
Contact Kenya Woodard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patel High School Informational Meeting
Do you have questions about Hillsborough County's newest charter high school? Two townhall meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at New Tampa Library, 10001 Cross Creek Blvd., in Tampa on Monday (Jan. 7) and Jan. 15. For more information, visit patelhighschool.org.