The Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative (WREC) has donated $400,000 to help Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation to purchase equipment for the school, now under construction off Curley Road, in East Pasco.
The donation “represents an investment in the next generation of engineers, IT professionals, electrical linemen, and entrepreneurs,” according to a news release from Pasco County Schools.
The school district plans to open the new school in the fall of 2022. It will offer programs aimed to equip students “with 21st-Century employability skills and entrepreneurial experiences to enhance their long-term career prospects,” the release says.
The school is expected to have an enrollment of 1,000 students.
Its programs will include digital technology, engineering, biomedical science, transportation, building technology and others, the release adds.
The donation from the electric cooperative will go toward buying the equipment needed to prepare Kirkland Academy students for high-skill, high-wage careers.
“With technology rapidly changing particularly in the utility sector, WREC felt it essential to invest in an educational program that focuses on the latest in technology and innovation,” said Billy Brown, the electric cooperative’s chief executive officer.
The 184,000-square-foot school is within the electric cooperative’s five-county service area.
Having one of the largest employers in Pasco County partnering with the school district will help to ensure the success of Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation, Pasco School Superintendent Kurt Browning said in the release.
“We have big plans for the Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation, and it’s great to see that Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative is as excited about it as we are,” Browning said. “This generous donation will enable students to have the kinds of cutting edge, hands-on educational experiences that will be a distinguishing feature of Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation.”
At a school board meeting last year, the team working on the design and construction of the school provided details about the site and plans, as well as offering a glimpse of its planned programs.
The 104-acre school site is about 3 miles due east of Interstate 75.
The campus is projected to cost approximately $70 million, according to district officials. And, the school will not have an attendance zone. Like Wendell Krinn Technical High School, the new Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation will attract students based on interest in its varied programs.
It’s at the northwest edge of Kirkland Ranch, on Curley Road, at the eastern edge of Wesley Chapel. It’s about 3 miles north of Watergrass Elementary School.
The site is at more than 40 feet of elevation, and includes an existing pond and oak trees.
A number of career and technical education labs are planned, including those designed for digital media, engineering robotics, biomedical and patient care.
Automotive, diesel, welding, construction, electrical and cybersecurity programs are planned, as well.
The diesel program will be one of a few in the state.
Those programs are in addition to core academic classes and electives.
Students will be able to learn about entrepreneurship and business, as well as foreign language, math and science.
In addition to the high school, the school district is planning for the future. A large portion of the property, east of the high school, has been maintained for a future kindergarten through eighth grade school.
Published June 09, 2021