Around Osceola
Osceola News-Gazette

Follow Us On:

State of Education touts increased graduation, higher education enrollment

Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Christian
Staff Writer
Increased graduation rates and improvements in the number of Osceola County students enrolled in higher education were just some accomplishments touted during the School District’s annual State of Education address on Wednesday.
Hosted this year at the Osceola School for the Arts, the presentation examined strategic aspects of the

News-Gazette Photo/Martin Maddock
School District Superintendent Debra Pace addresses those attending the State of Education address on Wednesday at the Osceola School for the Arts.

district’s growth and development. The meeting was led by Superintendent Debra Pace and accented with multimedia footage from each board member on a different aspect of Osceola County schools, such as community engagement and resources for educators.
Positive statistics and anecdotes of student success served to underline the event’s “going from good to great” theme of improvement.
Increased graduation rates and improvements in the number of Osceola County students enrolled in higher education were particular points of pride discussed during the event.
Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia’s Lake Nona, Osceola and Poinciana campuses, spoke about the continued partnership between the community college and Osceola schools.
She noted that within five years the number of students who were continuing their education after high school improved by more than 20 percent, shifting it from 61st out of 67 counties in Florida in 2010 to 22th in 2015. Plinske said that with the opening of Valencia’s Poinciana campus in August, that number is likely to have improved even more.
The 2017-18 school district budget is the first to exceed $1 billion, according to School Board Member Clarence Thacker. The continued population growth within Osceola County has created some budgetary challenges for an area with relatively low property tax values.
A limited revenue stream has prompted the district to take action by implementing a half-cent sales tax and increased impact fees for property developers who bring additional homes and students to the area.
“It’s allowing us to take care of ourselves,” said Thacker, who also noted that the district is expected to receive roughly $25 million a year in revenue generated from the sales tax.
The event wrapped up with encouraging words from Pace on the district’s future.
“We believe, with your continued help and support, we can and will change a day, change a life and change our world.”