Plans for new Catholic high school in San Jose diocese hit major roadblock

In 5-2 vote, government agency responsible for municipal boundaries won't approve annexation of land to Morgan Hill, dooming proposed school in Santa Clara County

Red gridded area is where the proposed Morgan Hill city expansion and the high school would be. Blue shaded area is city limits. (image from Morgan Hill Times)

A Catholic high school has been talked about in the Morgan Hill for nearly a decade, but the Diocese of San Jose has run into a series of setbacks getting its 40 acres of land—their preferred site of the future school—annexed into the city.

The latest of these hurdles is the denial of an annexation proposal Dec. 5 by the county commission charged with authorizing city boundary line extensions.

The school site sits outside of the city’s Urban Services Area, so it must be annexed in order to receive city services like water, sewer and public safety. The area the city attempted to annex sits North of Tennant Avenue and East of Condit Road.

Plans to annex the high school site were submitted by the City of Morgan Hill to the Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) for a second time, resulting in a Dec. 5 ruling at the committee meeting.

Committee staff had recommended in their report that LAFCO commissioners deny the city’s request, because staff believed the plans did not comply with committee standards. The annexation proposal failed in a 5-2 vote, with Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman and Santa Clara Valley Water District Director John L. Varela voting to approve the city’s request.

Morgan Hill and the LAFCO committee have a complicated history when it comes to the Catholic high school project and what is designated as the city’s “Southeast Quadrant.” Many of the commissioners at the Dec. 5 meeting brought up past decisions by the committee to deny the city’s annexation requests in the area that is mostly farmland.

LAFCO is an appointed body of citizens and elected officials throughout the county. The committee’s mission is, “Encouraging orderly boundaries, discouraging urban sprawl, and preserving agricultural and open space lands.”

While many of the commissioners saw the annexation request as the beginning of more outward growth in Morgan Hill, Wasserman thought the annexation would be the best way to preserve agricultural land.

Wasserman told the rest of the commissioners that if the request was not approved, the Diocese would sell the land and the parcels would be used for individuals or families who build what is often referred to as “ranchettes” or “McMansions.”

He thought mitigation that was planned for by the Diocese and the city—the two chief proponents of the Catholic high school proposal—would be the best way to guarantee the land was used for agricultural purposes and not development.

Full story at Morgan Hill Times.


  1. So who provides basic services to the site now? Maybe the Diocese made a bad real estate deal when they bought the site. Are the parents of potential students pressuring the politicians to make a deal?

    • Vacant land suitable for a school campus is almost nonexistent within Morgan Hill city limits. Diocese bought the land taking the risk that it wouldn’t be annexed. Now they’ll sell it for a profit. Developers will have to dig wells and provide for utilities apart from city services. This project has been going on for years and nothing’s come of it for twenty years. I bet if it were not a Catholic school but a charter school specializing in transgender and gay studies it would have been unanimously approved.

  2. Joe in San Jose says

    If the school would have been a duplicate of Archbishop Mitty High School, Catholic students are better off going to public school anyway. At least in public school they aren’t misled about what Catholic faith is.

  3. Isn’t this the same diocese that was a quarter billion dollars in the hole a few months ago? I am surprised that they would even consider a project that will probably costs many tens of millions of dollars, unless they have some extremely well-heeled donors in their back pocket for the project. But then again, look at Oakland and its sinking cathedral… a money pit metaphorically and physically. Bishops aren’t apparently chosen for their financial acumen.

  4. Elizabeth T. says

    Once all the hurdles have been jumped, I urge the the diocese to look at Central Catholic High School in Modesto as a WONDERFUL EXAMPLE of what a true Catholic school looks like!!!

    As a traditional Catholic I know of what I speak as I graduated from the high school.

    • One big hurdle: the diocese doesn’t have land on which to build a school. They’ll be lucky to build a school by 2029. By that time the Catholic Church will have declined by 25% in affiliation and Mass attendance, with further accelerated declines as Baby Boomer Catholics die out. Tuition at Catholic schools will have increased by at least 25%, squeezing out more families, making the schools even more into elite prep schools that are only nominally Catholic. So, really, why bother to build at this point?

    • Joe in San Jose says

      The diocese of San Jose isn’t interested in having a true Catholic school. If they were interested in that, there wouldn’t be gay married teachers at the current diocesan high school and there wouldn’t be a gay club for students at the school and they wouldn’t do secular rock music at Mass and religion classes wouldn’t be SJW training workshops about climate change and globalism and left-wing identity politics.

  5. Joana Santos says

    As a parent from Gilroy and
    my daughter goes to St. Catherine School in Morgan
    Hill. It is our dream for our child to go to a Catholic high school
    here in Morgan Hill in the future. The time they will spent in traffic
    to go to catholic school in San Jose, the children can
    use their valuable time to after school activities. Our
    population is growing many kids need more schools
    here in our area. Most parents we know are dreaming
    and hoping for their kids to go to the proposed Catholic High school
    in Morgan Hill. It makes sense for us because we live here
    and we want convenience and good school that will help
    our children build their faith. It doesn’t make sense for
    LAFCO. Is it because they do not live here and they don’t…

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