Tag Archives: Education



Florida is currently ranked 50th out of 50 states in per capita funding for K-12 public education and 39th in per pupil funding. U.S. Census Bureau, Education Week “Quality Counts 2009″.

Since 2007, Florida’s legislature has cut the K-12 education budget by $1,384,803,118. In 2006, we spent $7,400 per pupil and today we spend a shocking $6,400 per pupil. (The national average is over $10,000.) NEA Rankings of the States 2008

In 1970, the United States had 30% of the world’s college graduates, now has only 15%. National Governors Association

A 10% increase in high school graduation rates would reduce murder rates by 20%. National Bureau of Economic Research

On average, a high school graduate earns $600,000 more during his/her lifetime than a dropout. Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics

Polk County has lost $61.17 million of state funding over the last two years. Polk County School Board

The following statistics and more can be found by logging onto www.fundeducationnow.org.


Lakeland Students Achieve On National, Standardized Testing

Ninety-three graduated seniors who attended Lakeland schools or are Lakeland residents were named 2009 Superintendent’s Scholars. Superintendent’s Scholars have a minimum grade point average of 3.75 and a score of 1270 (critical reading and math) or above on the SAT or a 28 or better on the ACT.

The Superintendent’s Scholars program is in its 21st year and is coordinated by the Polk Education Foundation.

Superintendent’s Scholars attending Lakeland schools or are from Lakeland are listed with their school:

Bartow High: Cassidy Lancaster, Cory Smith.

Bartow International Baccalaureate: Melissa Adams, Robin Clark, John Erwin, Samantha Espinosa, Andrea Farinas, Carlene Fogle-Miller, Margaret Frates, Jessica Gonzalez, Lauren Hughes, Suma Metla, Joshua Newell, Shivani Patel, Christine Tallo, Amith Umesh, Samuel White.

George Jenkins High: Cayley Abrado, Nicola Antonelli, Erika Bailey, Christina Campbell, Lindsay Castret, Katherine Childs, Jessica Dye, Kevin Freedman, Alexandria Greenhill, Jackson Hager, Harish Kotipoyina, Matthew Lauer, Nathalie Moyano, Jonathan Munoz, Rachel Patel, Janki Patel, Nasreen Sadeq, Allison Stewart, Tessa Syvertsen, Allison Thompson.

Harrison School for the Arts: Brooke Adams, Allison Bedford, Emily Boyer, Bryce Bresnan, Tyler Campbell, Alejandro Garcia, Meagan Johnson, Christopher Kline, Grace McMullen, Eric Obermeyer, Kathryn Phillips, Jennifer Russell, Joshua Schell, Jamie Steinberg, Garrett Williams, Olivia Williams, George Williford.

Kathleen High: Jeremy Williams

Lake Gibson High: Wade Carreno, Tylor Earl, Katelynn Harrell, Andrew M. Miller, Gage Mueller, Phillip Roddenberry.

Lake Region High: Jessica Moore.

Lakeland High: Allison Calahan, Kyle Champeau, Eddie Chirino, Anna Edwards, Stephen Franzen, Nathan Gates, Erin Goding, Andrew Joyner, Jaren Kerber, Alexandra Lewis, Carrie McNeill, Megan Petrie, Victoria Shannon, Victoria Sheets, Gilbert Thomas, Rachel Van Middlesworth, Cori Wells, Katie Wellslager, Kyle Wise.

McKeel Academy: Laura Newberry, Jessica Poulsen.

PCC High: Adam Bracewell, Kevin Bryan, Aaron Cassity, Shiloh Hodges, Hannah Hodges, Krysta Ledford, Katelyn Ruppert, Caity Strickland.

Summerlin Academy: Heather Weaver.


USF Polytechnic Offers Master’s Degree Information Sessions

Would you like to earn a master’s degree close to home from one of Florida’s top three research universities?

The University of South Florida Polytechnic — Florida’s only polytechnic — offers an affordable, high-quality education. Cohort models offer sequenced coursework and simplified scheduling.

The public is invited to free information sessions June 11 at 10 a.m. or 5 p.m. at in LTB 1121 at USF Polytechnic, 3433 Winter Lake Rd., Lakeland. Faculty members, the graduate advisor, financial aid and admissions representatives will be available to answer questions.

Degrees are available in counselor education (M.A. in community/mental health counseling or school guidance counseling), educational leadership (M.Ed.) and reading education K-12 (M.A.). The programs in educational leadership and reading education are available in Highlands County.

For more information contact Dr. Jennifer Beyer at (863) 667-7058 or jbeyer@poly.usf.edu.


USF Polytechnic Needs Your Help

As you may have recently read in the Ledger, USF Polytechnic is poised to receive the funding necessary to develop the programs, faculty and facilities to move the University toward its mission as Florida’s first Polytechnic University. USF Polytechnic is unquestionably one of the most important economic development projects to impact Lakeland, Polk County and the I-4 corridor in years, and will serve as a catalyst to attract high skill/high wage industry and jobs to our region. The Lakeland community is already experiencing the ripple effect associated with this project. Welldyne, a high-tech pharmaceutical company, chose to build its newest facility in Lakeland because of USF Polytechnic. They have pledged to fill 700 jobs in the next two years. As the University grows our community can expect to see various support industries moving to Lakeland.

As business leaders in the community, the Chamber is encouraging you to communicate your support of USF Polytechnic and ask Governor Crist to support the funding allocated in this year’s budget for the University. David Steele, Director of University Advancement, has provided some points and communication tips to assist in this process:


Urge Gov. Charlie Crist to support the Legislature’s recommended funding levels for higher education and USF Polytechnic.


Make contact by letter, email, phone & fax ASAP after 05.11.09.


The Florida Legislature has appropriated $11.4 million in construction (“PECO”) funding and $5 million in base budget for new faculty & programs.


Last year Gov. Crist signed legislation that established USF Polytechnic as “the state’s first and only polytechnic”.

Last year Gov. Crist supported $15 million in initial construction funding for the new campus.

The development of USF Polytechnic has been a top priority of our entire region, including the Tampa Bay Partnership, the Central Florida partnership, the Central Florida Development Council, the Lakeland Economic Development Council, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Polk Board of County Commissioners, the Lakeland City Commission, Lakeland Vision, and numerous other public and private organizations and citizens.

It represents a stunning opportunity for economic development in one of the state’s most dynamic regions, at the heart of Florida’s High Tech Corridor. (Key sectors include information technology, manufacturing/logistics/distribution, healthcare, engineering, etc.)

The PECO (construction dollars) funding is vital as an economic stimulus initiative (construction projects have tremendous “ripple effects” on the economy)

The base budget funding for new faculty & programs is crucial as USFP develops an exciting new model of public higher education and moves toward separate accreditation.

Well over $100 million has already been invested in this project by local government and private donors. The state “needs to do its part” and leverage those investments.

This is important to you, your organization, your community/region, and the state.

This is about “finishing what we started” and positioning Florida for global competitiveness.


Use multiple modes of communication: email is quickest, but you can follow up with fax, phone, AND “snail mail”.

Open your communication with a clear statement of support. Don’t save that for the end. At the end you can reinforce your message.

Briefly explain your connection with the project & region (i.e. local entrepreneur, investor, donor, native, concerned citizen, etc.)

Emphasize that this is not only an important “regional priority” but also vital to the state’s future

Don’t forget to thank Gov. Crist for his prior support for USF Polytechnic.

Every “touch” on this issue matters. Please do NOT pass up a chance to weigh in!


Governor Charlie Crist
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

fax: 850.487.0801

phone: 850.488.7146

email: Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com, Eric.Eikenberg@MyFlorida.com

/ cc: HARRISON.PATTY.S17@flsenate.gov, seth.mckeel@myfloridahouse.gov, dfsteele@poly.usf.edu

NOTE: It is very important to send the emails to all addresses noted above. That allows those other than the Governor to track support & help to leverage it.


If you have any questions, please contact David Steele (dfsteele@poly.usf.edu or 863.944.9119). He can get you whatever information you need.


USF Poly to Host Social Media Seminars

(Lakeland, Fla., April 27, 2009) – “They wanted a sequel, so we’re giving it to them,” says Tamara Sakagawa. “We plan to provide some free, valuable information so people can use social media to grow, sustain or manage their businesses.”

Sakagawa and Chuck Welch will present a social media seminar April 29, 11:00 a.m. – noon and 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the University of South Florida Polytechnic. Sakagawa is the City of Lakeland’s community redevelopment agency manager, and Welch publishes two popular news sites, Lakeland Local and Metro I-4.

The workshop is part two of Welch’s social media presentation that the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency hosted in March.

“Last month was why.’ This month is ‘how,’” says Welch. “It’s a quick, hands-on class for those committed to social media.”

According to Sakagawa, USF Poly’s Open Use Computer Lab provides an ideal location for the workshop.

“This event is really more useful to people if they can work along with the instructor.  I had originally thought of making this a bring-your-own-laptop event, but that just seemed cumbersome. “

In addition to making its computer lab available for the workshop, USFP has plunged into the world of social media. The school has a presence on Facebook and recently launched a successful marketing campaign to increase its followers on Twitter.

Sakagawa first experimented with social media last year when she opened a Facebook account. She started to wonder how it and other forms of social media could help small businesses with limited marketing budgets.  She originally planned the first workshop for Dixieland Community Redevelopment Area businesses.  Because the topics are so universal, she says, she opened the event to anyone in the community, with a specific focus on small business owners.

Sakagawa uses each event as an opportunity to share some information about the city, the Dixieland CRA and the Redevelopment Agency.  She also sees it as a networking opportunity for businesses and citizens, who, she hopes, will decide to locate or shop in, or learn more about, Dixieland.

“I see these seminars as civic engagement and customer service,” she says.” “We need to communicate with our citizens about what we do, how we do it, and why things happen.  These events give us a chance to not only share some insight into what’s going on but also get feedback from the public. We want to know what people and businesses need, how we can help, what services have value.  Each event gives us an opportunity to learn more about what we can do, or do differently, to stimulate investment and keep the local economy churning.”

According to Sakagawa, the Dixieland CRA’s Facebook page and a new downtown website — plandowntownlakeland.com — have helped to engage a different segment of the public. Previous forms of outreach included direct mail, addressed primarily to property owners, news releases and legal ads.

“We would always see the same people at public meetings, and we would wonder how to connect with younger people or people who could not, or would not, take time out of their days to come to a meeting or workshop. The website and blog let us share concepts with an online audience and get additional and frank feedback as we update the plan for downtown Lakeland.  Facebook has allowed us to share information with a different audience, one we hope will stop and think about the businesses in this area.”

For more information on the workshop contact Tamara Sakagawa at 863-834-6011 or tamara.sakagawa@lakelandgov.net. Or if you would like to host a social media workshop for your organization contact Chuck Welch at (863) 614-0434 or Welch@lakelandlocal.com