CHARLOTTE, N.C. — St. Mark Catholic School, an elementary and middle school that is part of Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools, opened in Huntersville in 2006.
Today, many graduates of St. Mark either commute or take the bus roughly 30 miles to Charlotte Catholic High School in Pineville.
Charlotte Catholic is the only Catholic high school in Mecklenburg County, and one of only two Catholic high schools in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, along with Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Kernersville.
While Charlotte Catholic does not have a waiting list, its enrollment “is at a level that, realistically, we don’t want to go much higher,” says Mike Ford, director of marketing for Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools.
With an influx of new residents, the Charlotte diocese is one of the fastest-growing Catholic dioceses in the United States, and its seven parishes in and around northern Mecklenburg County are home to 11,300 registered Catholic families, Ford says.
A year ago, Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools surveyed Catholic families in those seven parishes about their possible interest in a new Catholic high school in the area.
The survey supported the idea that a new high school in the region initially could enroll about 100 ninth-graders.
“There appeared to be enough demand for opening a new school,” Ford says.
Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools has developed a plan to open a new high school, starting with a freshman class and possibly also a sophomore class, if enough families sign up.
To open, Ford says, the school would need commitments from at least 100 freshmen.
And it also could include a sophomore class if it had commitments from least 50 families, although it would not need a sophomore class to open.
So far, the school has commitments from 51 freshman and eight sophomores.
While tuition has not been set for next year, tuition this year at Charlotte Catholic is $7,499 for Catholic students and $10,855 for students who are not Catholic.
Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools has signed a letter of intent with the owner of a 30,000-square-foot building at 13728 Statesville Road in Huntersville that formerly housed a wholesale supply company and would serve as a temporary facility for the school for two years until a permanent school was built.
The group is looking at several sites for the permanent facility, and has received a pledge for a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor to help pay for it, Ford says.
The budget for Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools includes some funds for future growth.
Fundraising to help pay for the new high school would target the seven parishes in the region, as well as the community overall.
Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools also are in the final stages of hiring a project developer, who would oversee fundraising, development of the curriculum, and hiring faculty and staff.
The group will decide on Feb. 28, 2011, whether to go ahead with the new high school, which would open the following August and be called Christ the King Catholic High School.