There are shattered windows covered with boards. And holes in the ceiling. Pasco County’s first school for African-American students sits empty and in need of a fix.
“This thing should have been opened, never closed. And use it for the benefit of the community,” said Dade City activist Margarita Romo.
Residents saved Moore Mickens Education Center in 2013 when it was on the chopping block. But eventually the Pasco School District decided $2 million a year was too much for a school with about 130 students.
Now a group of Dade City residents, most of whom went to the school, are ready to take it over.
“We want to preserve this, not only for educational purposes. But for the legacy of this community,” said Moore Mickens board chairman Keith Babb.
The new Moore Mickens will start with a pre-school. They want to add vocational and GED classes, food services, and after school programs.
“There still is a need for the underprivileged kids who don’t fit in to the regular high school system,” said Moore Mickens alumni Jesse McClendon.
“Dade City doesn’t have anything. I’m sorry, but we don’t. We don’t have any place for kids. We don’t have any place for them to go to a movie,” said Romo.
The new group agreed with the school district to a 30-year lease for $10 a year. But but to do it, it will take others to step up.
“We need businesses to help us. If you’ve seen pictures of this building. We need paint. We need donations. We need any help we can get. We don’t want to say this is our project. But this is the community’s project,” said Babb.
The school board will vote on approving the new lease June 30.
For more information on how to help the school’s reopening email firstname.lastname@example.org.