Pasco embarks on new type of high school

The Pasco County school district is planning a new magnet high school that doesn’t fit the traditional mold.

It will combine a rigorous curriculum along with technical skills training — and will seek community partnerships to give students real-world experiences, said Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent for Pasco County Schools.

Coming up with a name for the school is a little bit tricky, Gadd said.

Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent for Pasco County Schools, talks about a new high school the district plans to open in 2022 that will combine opportunities for mastering academics and technical skills. (B.C. Manion)

The idea is to prepare students to have many options when they leave high school — whether, say, they want to work as a welder for someone else; or, they want to have their own welding business.

While the district invites public suggestions to help it come up with a name for the school, it is proceeding with the school’s design.

The magnet school will be built at Curley and Keifer roads, in Wesley Chapel, on the former Kirkland Ranch property. The school is being built to accommodate 900 students, but is designed for expansion, if there’s a larger demand.

Students are expected to come primarily come from Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch, Cypress Creek, Wesley Chapel and Pasco high schools, but also might come from as far away as Sunlake and Land O’ Lakes high schools.

The planned opening date is fall of 2022, and the school may begin operations with just a freshman class, or perhaps freshman and sophomore classes, Gadd said.

The district wants to give the school some time to develop its own community and to build its brand, he explained.

As time goes on, the school wants to become increasingly involved in the community and for the community to be increasingly involved in the school, the deputy superintendent said.

For instance, the district also has begun having conversations with people who have various types of expertise.

Sometimes those conversations may yield helpful suggestions for refining the curriculum; other times, they may lead to partnerships that support programs, or provide real-world opportunities for students, Gadd said.

The leadership at this school will likely be different, too. Rather than a principal and assistant principal, it’s likely to have leaders who spend part of their time on campus and part of their time out in the community, he said.

The interactions that can result can yield many new opportunities, he explained.

Program plans for the school include academies for business, finance and marketing; digital technology; engineering technology; health science and human services; transportation technology; and, building technology. The school will serve grades nine through 12, and will offer industry certification in high-demand career fields.

There also will be post-secondary education programs offered after-hours, Gadd said.

The deputy superintendent said the new school will be a departure from tradition, but he said he thinks that is what parents want for their children.

“I’m a big advocate in not building the same old high schools, the same old middle schools and the same old elementary schools. I’d like to see that campus someday represent the market, so to speak.

“Parents are asking us for something other than the traditional cookie-cutter school,” he said.

Have an idea for this school’s name?
Pasco County School Board policy encourages community members, educators and students to provide suggestions for school names. The board has the final say. Suggested names should be accompanied by a brief explanation. Email submissions to , with the subject line “school name,” or fax them to (813) 794-2716.

Understanding Gen Z*

  • Have never known a non-digital world
  • Make up 32 percent of the 7.7 billion global population
  • Use Smartphones 15.4 hours a week
  • Respond best to short, visual marketing strategies

Understanding the job market

  • 47 percent of current middle-class jobs in the United States are at risk of being replaced by automation over the next 20 years
  • 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not yet been invented

Sharing the school’s goals

  • Prepare students for success
  • Enhance the high school experience
  • Inspire innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Simulate real-world experiences
  • Foster mentorship and community connections

*Gen Z are those born in 1995 or later

Source: HepnerArchitects/CanonDesign

Published July 24, 2019


  1. Ralph V Fisher says

    I graduated from a Vocational High School in the HARRISBURG, PA area in 1965. In fact the built a larger brand new Vocational High School years later.
    There is a shortage of American People working in Building Trades and even less going to a school to learning building trades. Everyone wants a job in I.T. Field.
    Without Building Trades Education, our country will not grow.
    The name of the new school would be “The Pasco County Vocational School.

  2. I thought they were building this school on Handcart?

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