Orlando, FL – Valencia College’s board of trustees on Tuesday took the first step toward creating a campus in Poinciana by voting to ask the State Board of Education to approve a new campus in the fast-growing Osceola County development.
Although Valencia College officials have been eyeing a possible Poinciana campus since 2003, getting state approval would “open the doors for real planning,” said Dr. Sandy Shugart, Valencia College president.
“We have been looking forward to bringing our presence to Poinciana for many years and I think this is the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time,” Shugart said.
Following the trustees’ vote, the college will ask the State Board of Education for permission to establish a Poinciana campus. If the State Board of Education approves, Valencia officials may begin looking for a site.
College officials estimate that the first phase of construction in 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.
Financing for the new campus depends on state funding, but college officials hope to get the new campus added to the list of state-approved building projects.
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 and 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.”
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