KISSIMMEE, FL – While crafting Florida’s $79 billion budget for the coming year, state legislative leaders carved out $11.9 million in construction funds for the first phase of Valencia College’s new Poinciana campus.
The funds represent the first phase of construction for a 60,000-square-foot, multistory building. The total cost of planning and construction for the building is approximately $22 million.
Valencia officials anticipate that groundbreaking could take place in the summer of 2016 and the building could be completed within the next two years, if the legislature appropriates the final phase of construction funds next year.
“We are grateful to the state legislature for providing vital construction funding for our proposed Poinciana campus, which will serve a community that has too often been left on the sidelines,” said Dr. Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College. “We want to thank Gov. Rick Scott, who has seen the need for this campus, as well as Rep. Mike La Rosa and Sen. Darren Soto, who are staunch advocates for the campus. We also want to thank our community partners in Poinciana and officials from Osceola County, who donated the land for the campus.”
Although Valencia College officials have been eyeing a possible Poinciana campus since 2003, momentum for the campus accelerated two years ago and Valencia officials have worked closely with local leaders and community groups to rally support for the proposed campus.
After the state legislature provided $1 million in planning funds in 2014, Valencia College’s Board of Trustees approved an additional $2 million to speed up the project. In addition, Osceola County donated 18.93 acres of land at Pleasant Hill and Reaves Road to serve as the site for the new campus.
“This new campus will provide a well-needed opportunity for Poinciana students to attend college and achieve the American Dream,” said Sen. Darren Soto. “Currently, Valencia’s Poinciana students have to commute one to two hours each way to attend classes at the Osceola campus, resulting in 20 percent fewer Poinciana students attending college. With this new location, we can and will do better.”
“Education is important for the prosperity of our next generation. I am honored to lead the charge in the Florida House to bring higher education to the Poinciana and South Osceola communities,” said Rep. Mike La Rosa.
The proposed campus at Poinciana would become Valencia’s sixth campus. Valencia College currently serves about 70,000 students in Osceola and Orange counties.
“A campus in Poinciana will be a game-changer,” said Dr. Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia’s Osceola and Lake Nona campuses. “We believe we can increase the college-going rate of students who graduate from high school in the Poinciana area. But we’d like to get more adults to complete college degrees as well. We want to offer career-training at this campus, and hope to partner with UCF and TECO (Technical Education Center Osceola) to provide a full gamut of opportunities for the residents of Poinciana.”