A new Catholic high school in Eastern Jackson County is closer to becoming a reality.
St. Michael the Archangel High School will fill the void left by the 2013 closing of St. Mary’s High School in Independence. The school will be located at an 80-acre site that is between 85th Street and Lee’s Summit Road in an area that is mostly Lee’s Summit. The diocese broke ground and dedicated the site on May 3.
The site was chosen because of its central location to all of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph’s elementary feeder schools, said Steven Hilliard, who serves as the diocese's stewardship, development and strategic planning director.
“(St. Michael) is at a very accessible location. It provides a 20- to 25-minute driving distance to all of our 10 feeder schools,” he added.
Archbishop O’Hara High School in Kansas City will also become part of the new high school and O'Hara's current principal, John O’Connor, will become St. Michael’s first principal.
“All of the (O’Hara’s) teachers will be invited to apply and be interviewed for new positions,” Hilliard added. “We have to go through a formal process because it’s new.”
St. Mary's and O'Hara have been operated by the diocese.
The “fully academic and co-curricular facility” will be approximately 92,000 square feet in size and can house up to 550 students in its first stage and 750 later in its second stage, said Hilliard. The high school will feature athletic fields for practices and games, a gymnasium and “some type of theater facility,” he said.
Hilliard said actual construction should begin this fall.
“The goal is to have it completed by fall 2015,” he said.
He added the school’s exterior is in the process of getting defined and that a master plan should be finalized within a month.
According to the diocese’s website, www.leaningmeforward.org, the high school project will cost approximately $30 million. Half of the project’s budget will come from gifts and pledges and the other half from debt financing, according to a diocese brochure.
Tuition at St. Michael will be higher than current tuition costs at O’Hara, according to the brochure. But it will be comparatively lower than other Catholic high schools, such as Rockhurst High School, Notre Dame de Sion and St. Teresa’s Academy for the 2012-13 school year. Tuition for a student to be enrolled at St. Michael in the 2015-16 school year is priced from $8,500 to $9,000, including fees.
“St. Michael the Archangel High School will be an academically excellent, distinctly Catholic and fiscally stable school suited to 21st century education in an area that has the greatest potential for enrollment,” diocese superintendent Dan Peters said in a release.