The East Valley’s only Catholic high school is moving forward with plans to build a 55,000-square-foot, three-story classroom building on its Chandler campus.
Seton Catholic High School, 1150 N. Dobson Road, received approval recently from the Diocese of Phoenix bishop, which allows the school to prepare for a groundbreaking early next year, said Paula Osterday, director of advancement for the school.
The classroom building is part of a master plan capital campaign that began in 2002. In 2005, the original cost projection for the whole project was $30 million, Osterday said. More than $7 million has been raised so far. That money was used to build the new chapel, purchase additional land, and move and reconstruct a portion of the football field.
The first building — Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel — was completed in 2008. A portion of a new stadium is ready for use this fall.
The second building — with 16 classrooms, space for arts programs and a foreign language lab, and a two-story theater — will allow enrollment to go from 560 students to 700 students.
“We had a full enrollment for our freshman class and a waiting list,” Osterday said. “We’re seeing not a drop in enrollment but a demand. I’ve been here since 2005. The demand has been strong.”
In addition, enough funds have been raised to build the shell of the classroom building, Osterday said. A capital campaign is under way to raise the money the additional funds — about $5 million — for the inside of the building, site work and parking. If everything stays on track, the building could be open for use in fall 2011.
“The school stands for community, leadership and service,” said parent Kris Wallace, one of the leaders behind the fundraising efforts. “To be able to have that many more students at a school that has that as its mission statement is a good thing. To be able to expand the classroom numbers, you’re able to provide more AP (Advanced Placement) classes, performing arts programs and science programs.”
Seton Catholic High School opened first in downtown Chandler. According to history, Osterday said, a fire in the 1980s destroyed much of that campus, at Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard.
The new site on Dobson and Ray roads was selected, and construction was completed in the early 1980s.
The school acquired an adjacent parcel in 2006 for the expanded 36-acre campus.
In addition to the chapel and classroom building, the master plan includes a cafeteria and library/media center building; an administration building with additional classrooms; and a performing arts center. When that last building is complete, the school will start demolition of the older buildings. The theater space in the new building can be converted to classroom space by moving walls and chairs once the performing arts center is complete, Osterday said.
The multi-year master plan could take another five to 10 years to complete. When it is done, all former buildings except the gymnasium will be demolished, and that space will become a new parking lot, she said.
The Valley has five other Catholic high schools: Xavier College Preparatory, Brophy College Preparatory, St. Mary’s High School and Bourgade Catholic High School in Phoenix and Notre Dame Preparatory in Scottsdale.