state board of education oks new campus in poinciana

The State Board of Education on Tuesday approved Valencia College’s plans to create a new campus in Poinciana, paving the way for Valencia to begin the process of looking for a site for the new campus.

Although Valencia College officials have been eyeing a possible Poinciana campus since 2003, the discussion began to gain traction this year, said Dr. Sandy Shugart, Valencia College president. “We have been looking forward to bringing our presence to Poinciana for many years,” Shugart said.

When the campus will be completed depends on state funding, but college officials hope to get it added to the list of state-approved building projects. Plans call for securing a site by late spring of 2014.

College officials estimate that the first phase of construction of the Poinciana campus will consist of one 60,000-70,000 square foot building, which would serve about 2,500 students. Eventually, the campus would encompass 150,000 square feet of classrooms and offices and would serve about 4,000 students.

The new Poinciana campus will be Valencia’s sixth campus. The college currently operates four campuses in Orange County and one in Osceola County.

Poinciana is one of the fastest-growing communities in Central Florida. Census figures show that the area’s population grew from 13,600 residents to more than 53,000 from 2000 to 2010. Currently, students who live in the Poinciana area must commute about 45 minutes during rush hour to reach Valencia’s Kissimmee campus. The commute takes nearly two hours by bus.

“A campus in Poinciana would be a game-changer,” said Shugart. “We’d like to increase the college-going rate of students who graduate from high school in the Poinciana area; we’d like to get more adults to complete college degrees as well. We’d like to offer more career-training there; and we’d like to partner with the University of Central Florida and TECO (Technical Education Center Osceola) and others to make sure a full gamut of talent is available for companies that relocate and expand there.”

Source: Marketing and Strategic Communications, Valencia College; Valencia News; http://news.valenciacollege.edu

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