Valencia College gets $1 million in state funding for Poinciana campus
By Tiffanie Reynolds
Due to the cooperation from both the community and the state, Valencia College is one step closer to bringing a complete campus to Poinciana.
The first million dollars to design and build the campus, a request in the 2014
Valencia College received $1 million in state funding on Wednesday to begin working on building a Poinciana campus. Currently, it only has one campus in Kissimmee, shown above.
-15 state capital budget, was approved by Gov. Rick Scott on Monday. It begins the start of state funding for the new campus over the next three years.
Just two days after this approved funding – Wednesday – Kathleen Plinske, campus president of Osceola and Lake Nona Valencia campuses, held a public meeting to narrow down five possible sites to build the new campus and then provide a recommendation to the Valencia Board of Trustees.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be breaking ground anytime within the next year or anything like that. In fact, groundbreaking is probably still two to three years out on the horizon. But, this is an important first step that I think represents a commitment to the establishment of the Poinciana campus within the near future,” said Plinske.
The five sites include free land from Osceola County and four deeply-discounted sites from AV Homes, as part of Valencia’s public request for proposals. Two are in the southern end of Poinciana, at Marigold Avenue and Cypress Branch Road and at Cypress Parkway and Laurel Avenue. The other three sites are located at U.S. Highway 17-92 and Poinciana Boulevard, Reaves Road and Poinciana Boulevard and Pleasant Hill and Reaves Road. Since receiving the proposals, Plinske has been meeting with the community and area high schools to get a sense where the best central location would be for the new campus. Her focus is choosing a site that is convenient for every resident in Poinciana.
Along with narrowing down applications, Plinske also is beginning to look at programs for the campus. She said she wants to select the programs that fill missing skills for current businesses in Poinciana, and programs that will attract the type of businesses that the community wants to see move into Poinciana in the future. In the meantime, Valencia offers general education courses in the evenings at Liberty High School, and is working on a shared facility agreement with the Osceola County School District to use any empty classrooms on the TECO (Technical Education Center Osceola)/ALCO (Adult Learning Center Osceola) Poinciana satellite campus site at 1020 Cypress Parkway.
“One of the interesting points of data is that the college-going rates for Liberty High School and Poinciana High School are among the lowest in the county, and I think that’s a direct reflection on the current lack of access to higher education for Poinciana residents. So, I really believe that the addition of this campus in Poinciana is going to make a huge difference in our community,” said Plinske.