For immediate release - August 31, 2005
TAVARES — Lake County officials received an important call Tuesday from the Florida Department of Community Affairs about a new opportunity that will assist in planning for the community's school needs.
Lake County, along with Hillsborough, Indian River, Sarasota, St. Johns and Walton counties, were announced as pilot communities for the state's new school concurrency initiative. The Lake County Board of County Commissioners and the Lake County School Board will share a $200,000 grant as part of the program.
The school concurrency initiative is a result of Senate Bill 360. Signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush on June 24, the bill overhauls the state's growth management laws. Commonly referred to as "pay-as-you-grow" plan, the bill dedicates new funding and creates policies that help to ensure school needs of communities are met.
Throughout Florida, comprehensive plans are the foundation for local planning as it acts as an outline of the community's vision and priorities. Lake County is currently in the process of rewriting its comprehensive plan. Drafted portions of the new comprehensive plan, titled Planning Horizon 2025, are currently being reviewed by the Lake County Local Planning Agency.
Within each state-required comprehensive plan, elements must be addressed. A comprehensive plan's element is similar to a chapter in a novel. Each element addresses one specific item such as transportation and capital improvements. Previously, the education element of a comprehensive plan was considered optional. The new legislation makes the education element mandatory, requiring public schools and local governments across the state to come together to plan for the next 20 years of school facility needs.
"Lake County is prepared to take advantage of the state's guidance and financial assistance in creating an educational element," said Amye King, Planning Manager for the Lake County Comprehensive Planning Division. "I think we all envision this project will not be an easy task, but with the Department of Community Affairs support the process is sure to be more manageable."
According to Lake County officials, it was no coincidence Lake County was able to secure the state grant at the same time it was rewriting its comprehensive plan. Many Lake County elected officials and citizens, including the Board of County Commissioners, strongly urged Tallahassee leaders to include Lake County in the program.
"We were very proactive in applying for this program," said County Manager Cindy Hall.
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