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Superintendent's Message
A year ago, the School District of Osceola County embarked on a journey from Good to Great, with a focused Strategic Plan guiding our way. I assert with confidence today, we are better. As a result of the school district’s focused effort to improve learning opportunities for our students, the district’s grade increased by 43 points, earning a “B” and improving our standing to be among the top half of school districts in the state.

This year, 18 students graduated with both their high school diploma and their Associate of Arts degree from Valencia College, double the number of AA graduates from a year ago. In addition, students across the district passed 2,772 Advanced Placement exams, with a potential value of over $1.8 million in tuition savings for those students and their families. Students earned additional college credit through dual enrollment, International Baccalaureate, and industry certification exams; more Osceola School District students today can confidently say they are better prepared for success in college and careers than ever before.

Osceola County’s middle school students also excelled in rigorous coursework; 8th grade students will enter high school this fall with 1,800 credits in Algebra, Geometry, and Biology. The district has continued to expand Project Lead the Way programs in 25 of our elementary schools, providing students with hands-on learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math, and 2,300 second grade students were screened for gifted services, with 33% of those identified for further evaluation being English Language Learners. The total number of gifted students in elementary school rose from 415 to 615, which is a 48% increase over the prior year.

Furthermore, Osceola County School Board Members and I remain committed to being responsible stewards of your tax dollars. We will have a balanced budget again this year of over $1 billion, dedicated to providing rich programming for our students while living within our financial means. Since the passage of the half-penny sales tax last November, the Osceola School District will complete over $6.4 million in capital and deferred maintenance projects by this summer to improve our school facilities, which includes four HVAC chiller replacement projects and one major roofing project. In addition, the Osceola School District has commenced with planning and design for the first two comprehensive renovation projects at Michigan Avenue Elementary and Denn John Middle, which will generate over $43 million in construction work for our local community. Our new high school project on Boggy Creek Road remains on time and on budget, and will open in August 2018, followed by a middle school in Harmony in August of 2019. We continue to manage our dollars carefully to meet the needs of our rapidly growing student population, which this year will top 64,000 students. To serve their needs, the Osceola School District is blessed to have a talented and committed workforce of over 8,200 team members.

As we prepare for a new school year, we will continue to be guided by our strategic plan, aligning our work and our resources with the five strategic priorities outlined by the School Board last year: Academic Success, Talent Management, Fiscal Responsibility, Community Engagement, and Governance. The Board Members and I continue to work collaboratively together and with other community leaders to serve Osceola County with excellence, focused on preparing our students to reach their potential as responsible, productive citizens.

To achieve our goal of greatness, this year we will intensely focus our energy on “All means All.” We welcome ALL students who enter our doors, and we must ensure ALL of them achieve academic success. This will require the hard work of all school district employees, but it will also require the continued support and involvement of you, our community members—parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends. The growth and prosperity we want for our local community depends on a skilled, talented, and committed workforce. We recognize that our students today represent the labor force of tomorrow.

I invite each of you to join us on our journey from good to great; in the spirit of Ubuntu, “We are better when we work together.”

Sincerely,


Dr. Debra Pace,
Superintendent
Osceola School District
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