SCAPA began after an intensive study and recommendation by Lexington teachers, administrators, community members and leaders. These people comprised what was then known as Fayette County's Task Force for Excellence Committee. Hearing the committee's recommendations, Dr. Ron Walton, then Fayette County superintendent, proposed that the program begin as two fourth grade classes with 20 students each. One of two magnet schools begun that 1987 fall, the school was patterned after Cincinnati's School for the Creative and Performing Arts, or SCPA. The first students were selected based on an audition in one of the four general arts areas of drama, visual art, dance, or music. The auditioning students were third graders from all over Fayette County who would be fourth graders in the fall of 1987. Over the next eight years, a grade would be added until the school comprised grades four through twelve, literally growing up before the eyes of the Lexington community.
Over the past 30 years, SCAPA has had three homes. For the first four years, SCAPA resided as a school within a school at Harrison Elementary School located at 161 Bruce Street. When this location could no longer accommodate the growing school, it moved to the Bluegrass School at 475 Price Road. This move provided a location for the next nine and a half years and the Bluegrass portion of the school's name. The school remained in that location until the Fayette County Board of Education decided to renovate the old Adult Education Building (formally Fayette County's Central Office) on Lafayette's Campus and add to that structure to form SCAPA's present facility. SCAPA's new address 400 Lafayette Parkway, was a dream come true and the work of hundreds of hours by the school's administrative staff, teachers, and committed volunteer parents who worked tirelessly on the behalf of the school to get an adequate arts and academic facility built for the students. The high school portion of the program is housed at Lafayette High School, thereby giving them the name, SCAPA at Lafayette.