FEBRUARY 13, 2003

            The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a special joint meeting/workshop with the Lake County School Board and the Lake County League of Cities on Thursday, February 13, 2003, at 9:30 a.m., in the Magnolia Room of Lake-Sumter Community College, Leesburg, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Debbie Stivender, Vice Chairman; Catherine C. Hanson; Jennifer Hill and Robert A. Pool. Present from the Lake County School Board were: Pam Saylor, Esq., Superintendent; Jimmy Conner, Chairman; Becky Elswick; Kyleen Fischer; Dennis Reid and Scott Strong. Others present from Lake County were: William A. “Bill” Neron, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager/Director of Growth Management; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioner’s Office and Judy Whaley, Deputy Clerk.

            The Lake County League of Cities was represented by the following cities and towns: Astatula, Clermont, Eustis, Fruitland Park, Groveland, Howey-in-the-Hills, Lady Lake, Leesburg, Mascotte, Minneola, Montverde, Mount Dora, Tavares, and Umatilla.

            Mr. Jimmy Conner, Lake County School Board Chairman, called the meeting to order.


            Pastor John Christian gave the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.


            Mr. Conner welcomed everyone and gave special thanks to the Board of County Commissioners, city officials and elected leaders. He stated that there are two primary purposes for today’s meeting. One purpose is to document and prove conclusively that Lake County Schools are overcrowded as a result of the rapid growth that Lake County has experienced in the past several years. The second purpose is to document the financial position that will demonstrate that the Schools are fully leveraged and, unquestionably, can no longer fund new school construction. He praised the cooperative spirit of the meeting


            Ms. Pam Saylor, Esq., Superintendent of Schools, stated that today has the potential to become a defining moment in Lake County’s history as the impact of growth on the infrastructure of the Lake County Schools is considered and, by working together, a dialogue begins as to ways to resolve this issue. The ultimate outcome of this meeting could propel Lake County into a leadership role in this state as a model for intergovernmental collaboration in the best interests of the community at large. She introduced the parties in attendance, including the Lake County Commissioners and County Manager and representatives from various cities and towns.

            Ms. Saylor stated that there two purposes of today’s meeting. The first purpose is to share information regarding the effects of growth on the school system with all governmental agencies and entities in Lake County. The second purpose is to begin an informed dialogue and forge partnerships to develop solutions to the effects of growth on the school system. She stated that her hope is that there will be a clear direction to the solution to the issue and a definite commitment to meet again in the very near future to carry that out.

            GROWTH TRENDS 

            Mr. Will Davis, (LPG) Land Planning Group Mapping and Computer Services, gave a slide presentation on growth trends in the general and student populations of Lake County.

          Comparative Growth - County vs. State. In the last 21 years, Florida has grown by 6.2 million people, bringing the population to 17.5 million, a 64% increase. Lake County has grown almost twice as fast as the State since 1990 (49.63% County increase vs. 26.73% State increase) and more than three times as fast since 2000 (8.11% County increase vs. 2.59% State increase).

          Total County Population - 1960 to 2020. Florida is one of 13 states that has more than doubled in population since 1950. Lake County has almost quadrupled during the past 40 years, from 60,000 in 1960 to more than 230,000 today. There was a spike in growth in 2000-2001 of almost 17,000 people for that one year. This trend is expected to bring the Lake County total to more than 370,000 people by 2020.

          Current Population. A map of current population densities shows many areas of concentrations in excess of 1,400 residents per square mile. Areas that are available for future growth include the areas southeast of Clermont, northeast of Minneola, south of Leesburg and south of Tavares.

          Growth by Region. Lake County’s growth was ranked 12th of 67 Florida counties over the past 10 years, and 6th between 2000 and 2001. Percent of population growth projections between 1995 and 2020, by area of interest: East Lake County - 65.45%; Golden Triangle - 71.20%; Bassville Park - 54.99%; Leesburg/Lady Lake - 67.96%; South Lake County - 126.84%. Total - 81.97%. School age children will represent more than 47,000 students in the school system in the next 18 years. It is projected that the South Lake area will make up 32% of the entire County’s population in the next 18 years.

          Total Student Population - September 1979 to May 2012. The student population started to accelerate during the 1986-87 school year. Between 1988 and 1998, student population increased by 8,000 students. The trend is estimated to continue through 2012, reaching a peak of more than 40,000. As many as 2,600 additional students could be added with the Pre-Kindergarten enrollment mandate (Constitutional Amendment No. 8) and the effects of additional classrooms for the approved class size reduction (Constitutional Amendment No. 9) are unknown. The State’s growth projections utilized for School District Funding could be lower than expected.

          South Lake Elementary School Student Growth. The rate of increase almost tripled in the 1999-2000 school year by jumping from approximately 200 per year to more than 600 students per year.

          Growth Potential - South Lake. A Future Land Use Map is color coded with densities as low as one unit per 20 acres to densities of up to 22 units per acre. Another map represents areas and densities of available growth in South Lake County.

          Distribution of Future Growth at Build Out in South Lake County. A chart shows that two Future Land Use Categories, Suburban and Urban Expansion, comprise more than 2/3 of the total number of 95,000 residential units expected at build out. The combined unit totals for all Future Land Use Categories provide for an overall density of just less than one housing unit per acre in South Lake County.

          Proposed South Lake Elementary Schools - Growth. The area south of the Turnpike could represent more than 66,000 housing units and 21,000 additional school children at built out. The largest portions of growth are expected to occur in the proposed boundaries of Groveland, Lost Lake and the new elementary school south of Clermont near Crescent Lake.


            Mr. Jim Polk, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Lake County Schools, stated that his slide presentation will focus on how the growth will affect the capacity of the schools, particularly the South Lake elementary schools which are in a current, critical crisis. This same scenario could easily play out in the northeast portion of the County if certain roads are built and certain things take place.

          Elementary School Capacities. A graph illustrated the number of student stations at elementary schools in South Lake County. The current number of portables in use is: Clermont, 11; Groveland, 4; Lost Lake, 8 (school is only about four years old and no fifth-grade students are on this campus); Mascotte, 14; Minneola, 19; a new school near Crescent Lake will open next year at 100% capacity so portables are likely; Cypress Ridge, 16. Building permanent classrooms is a quality issue as well as a quantity issue.

          South Lake Elementary/Middle/High Schools - Capacities, Portables and Enrollments. The only schools on this chart without portables are: Astatula Elementary where enrollment as of 01/22/03 is 686 and capacity is 888; Gray Middle School where some of the buildings are more than 50 years old; and East Ridge High School which opened this year without a senior class and where 800 ninth-grade students are expected this coming school year. Capacity numbers in the chart below reflect the number of student stations in permanent buildings.

Elementary School



Jan 2003 Enrollment









Cypress Ridge








Lost Lake












Middle School



Jan 2003 Enrollment





Clermont (New)




Windy Hill




High School



Jan 2003 Enrollment

East Ridge (New)




South Lake




            Mr. Polk stated that the schools in South Lake are totally dependant upon the use of portable classrooms, and it looks like those portables will not be removed in the foreseeable future.


            Mr. Jim Drake, Director of Finance, Lake County Schools, gave a slide presentation on the fiscal impact of growth on Lake County Schools, specifically outlay revenues, impact fees and sales surtax, and funding needs.

          Capital Outlay Revenues Available to Fund Growth.

                      State Sources - 11%

                      Local Capital Improvement Levy (non-voted 2 mill set by Legislature) - 69%

                      Impact Fees - 15% (set by Board of County Commissioners). Range from a low of $63 for a 1-bedroom multifamily dwelling to $1,739 for a 4-bedroom single family dwelling.

                      Investment earning and miscellaneous revenues - 5%.

                      Sales Surtax, effective January 1, 2003. One-third of the penny sales tax is to be used on high school projects. These projects do not create significant new student stations.

          Local Capital Improvement. According to the Florida Department of Education the average allowable cost per student station in July 2002 was $15,752. A home valued at $140,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption generates approximately $219 per year in Local Capital Improvement Tax for the school district. It would take approximately 31 years for one home to cover the current cost of one student station, assuming 5% investment earnings.

          Impact Fees. Since 1991-1992, collections total (including interest earned) approximately $24,250,000. There are three distinct Impact Fee districts within the county: Northeast, West and South. Funds generated within those districts must be spent in those districts.

          School Impact Fee Benefit Districts. Estimated Cost of New Schools: $11 million - elementary; $15 million - middle school; $40 million - high school. Over the last ten years approximately $6.1 million in impact fees have been collected in the Northeast area, not enough to build one elementary school; approximately $2.5 million in the West area and approximately $15.6 million collected in the South area.

          Sales Surtax. Approximately $150 million for the benefit of high school remodeling and renovations is expected to be generated through sales tax revenues over the next 15 years.

          Sales Surtax Revenues. All sales tax revenues are expected to be used to pay debt service on COPs (Certificates of Participation) or sales tax bonds that are used to rebuild/renovate high schools.

          Funding Needs.

                      Anticipated Sources of Funding (over next 5 years) from all Capital Outlay Sources, including fund balances - $134,200,000

                      Anticipated Capital Needs (over next 5 years) - $234,400,000 (based on 11/1/01 educational plant survey)

                      Anticipated Additional Funds Needed - $100,200,000. Based on the most recent plant survey.

                      An update of the plant survey is in progress.

                      Neither survey includes the effect on schools of the Class Size nor Pre-K Constitutional Amendments.

          Summary of Existing COPs (Certificates of Participation). The School Board’s goal is to limit COP payments to 1.0 mill. COP payments currently exceed the 1.0 mill level, which is viewed as the maximum threshold by the rating agencies and insurers.

            Ms. Saylor concluded this portion of the slide presentation by stating that “A school is a building with four walls and tomorrow inside.” This statement focuses attention on young minds which are molded in the public schools across Lake County and which significantly impact the future of the County in every way.


            Mr. Conner stated that, even with maximum borrowing of future property tax revenues and sales tax revenues, the schools still have unmet needs at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The school system is moving forward as rapidly as possible to catch up from decades of the inability to renovate some of the older facilities. Even with the current financial situations, were the school system to have the ability to bond more money in the future, or if there should be an influx of money from the State, all phases of the high school projects are not fully funded. He added that the elementary and middle schools need new classrooms or renovations; needs in current facilities are still unmet; the issue of portables is not even addressed and there is a problem with the ability to build new schools. He stated that the School Board has a strong relationship with the Board of County Commissioners and with the cities and municipalities. He noted the cooperation between agencies during the construction of the new East Ridge High School in Clermont. He added that the first step is being taken today, but the problem must be acknowledged. The real leaders are those who step forward and offer solutions to the problem. Mr. Conner presented a slide with the following issues to consider:



          Lack of State Funding

          Pre-K and Class Size Reduction Amendments

          Impact Fees

          Interlocal Agreements

          Comprehensive Planning Process

          Martinez Doctrine

          School Concurrency

          Quality of Growth Development Ordinances

          Education Benefit Districts


            Commr Cadwell stated that there are two ways to stop this problem. Either stop growth or fund the schools and keep them equitable with that growth. He added that there are several subjects that need discussion over the next 30-40 days. He commented that the County responded after the fact in Clermont by not building the roads ahead of school construction, which is a good example of working together, but a bad example by not planning together. He stated that the Board has put a time line of 90 days on the table, and today’s meeting should result in a definite process for concurrency or funding solutions.

            In response to a question by Commr. Cadwell, Mr. Conner explained that the $15,000 average cost of a student station is a capital outlay and is a blended average figure between elementary, middle and high schools.

            Commr. Cadwell suggested that impact fees, the time frame for the Impact Fee Evaluation and Review Committee (Impact Fee Committee) report on those fees and districts be discussed. The district discussion should include structure, realignment and/or the possibility of eliminating the districts. He urged a decision on a working structure with time lines, including cities, home builders and any others who should be involved.

            Commr. Catherine Hanson commented that this summit is extremely constructive and overdue, and stressed the importance of analyzing where growth is occurring according to who is approving new units. She pointed out that during her reelection campaign her staff analyzed where new units are actually approved. The analysis showed that the County Commission approved fewer than 500 new units each year for the last eight years. She explained that a lot of the current growth was approved in the late 1980s and early 1990s, prior to the current Comprehensive Plan, and no matter what is done to address growth at this point, there are previously approved units in the County and in the cities. She stated that this is an opportunity to look at the facts on where the growth is occurring, who is approving it, when it was approved and which approvals are vested. She remarked that during the late 1980s and early 1990s, approximately 16,000 units were approved in one year, by a previous Board of County Commissioners. She pointed out that growth is continuing in the cities, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. She stated that a moratorium is a possibility, but questioned whether or not a moratorium would be for permits or on new units. She cautioned that the impact to the County’s economy should be considered and that facts, not emotion, are dealt with.

            Commr. Cadwell commented that the class size issue, Constitutional Amendment No. 9, must be solved in Lake County and that it will not be solved in Tallahassee. He stated that local agencies should band together on this and other issues.

            Mr. Conner stated that part of the School Board’s legislative platform is the repeal of Amendment 9.

            Ms. Saylor stated that the constitutional amendment, as a law, needs to be implemented. The Lake County Schools estimate that the impact of that amendment would require an additional 200 teachers are hired, over and above those ordinarily hired due to growth and attrition, and would require 200 additional classrooms. Those numbers are only for next year, and the amendment is to be implemented in increments.

            Ms. Kyleen Fischer, School Board Member, pointed out that the City of Eustis has asked the School Board to be present at planning and zoning meetings. She stated that she appears at those meetings as a non-voting member and can speak to the growth issues that occur in that community. She stated that the School Board has cooperated with the City of Umatilla and the Board of County Commissioners, in a trilateral coalition, in funding for tennis courts. She added that it is incumbent upon the School Board to provide information on the average numbers of students that can be adequately housed in a year so that decisions can be based on those numbers. She suggested that a maintenance provision oversight committee be part of the process.

            Commr. Cadwell advised the group that the County Commission is considering adding a School Board member to the Lake County Planning & Zoning Commission and that he prefers that person be a voting member.

            Ms. Saylor stated that a letter has been sent requesting that the School Board member be a voting member of the Planning & Zoning Commission.

            Mr. Conner mentioned the recently resolved Minneola school redistricting issue and pointed out that during such issues, the teachers and students, in extraordinarily adverse situations, in antiquated facilities, are rising to the occasion and are performing at very high levels. More than 50% of Lake County schools are A or B schools, and all others are C schools. Mr. Conner expressed his pride in the quality of the Lake County Schools.


            Mr. Conner stated that the possibility of forming an advisory committee was discussed with the Superintendent and the County Commission Chairman as a way to move forward with the process. He stated that such an advisory committee could include representatives from the League of Cities, the County Commission, the Superintendent of Schools, the School Board, and the homebuilders’ business community. The advisory committee could present ideas, pros and cons, and opinions on issues.

            Commr. Cadwell suggested that the advisory committee should report back to the whole body within 30 days and that the advisory committee should know their purpose.

            Mr. Conner stated that the advisory committee would look at impact fees as part of the broad picture, possibly reviewing the study by the Impact Fee Evaluation and Review Committee (Impact Fee Committee). He assured the group that there is no hidden agenda. He added that many pro business people are concerned with this problem and that a solution is needed to funding new school construction that is being caused by growth and the population explosion. He stated that advisory committee members should be broad minded and look at the issues from a community perspective. He opined that this is not a turf battle but is an opportunity to have a community solution.

            Commr. Hanson pointed out that the County Commission has been waiting for approximately six months to get results of the School’s portion of the impact fee study.

            Mr. Scott Strong, School Board Member, stated that numbers have been provided to the Impact Fee Committee but the numbers did not take into consideration class size Amendment No. 9 or the Pre-K Amendment No. 8.

            Commr. Jennifer Hill stated that she serves as Chairman of the Impact Fee Evaluation and Review Committee and that Committee has been waiting for numbers from the School Board for two years and, because recently submitted numbers were a bit askew, the consultant has been instructed to redo the numbers. She added that the School Board should also make a decision on the districting issue.

            Mr. Strong stated that there is an equity issue and there has been a recommendation to eliminate the districts. In staying focused on the positive areas, he thanked Commr. Cadwell and commented that a bold step was taken by the Board of County Commissioners in approving the 90-day postponement. He stated that the School Board’s resources have been exhausted and he mentioned the Palm Beach Plan and two plans which were presented by the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council. He commented that he likes the simplicity of the Martinez Plan which keeps the autonomy of the School Board and the County Commission and gives the County Commission the ability to make decisions on growth based on information from the School Board. He remarked that, even though some issues relate to previous terms, they must be dealt with and the current School Board and County Commission do not need to dwell on past mistakes. He stated that, even if an advisory committee is formed, the ultimate decision will be that of the County Commission. He pointed out that if nothing is done, the picture is grim and the probability of year-round scheduling, portables, and double sessions will exist. He reiterated that he favors the Martinez plan.

            Commr. Cadwell presented an analysis, prepared by County staff, of the differences between the Martinez Plan and the Palm Beach Plan.

            Mr. Dennis Reid, School Board Member, stated that an advisory committee should be kept at a reasonable size and that recommendations should be brought back very quickly.

            Commr. Cadwell suggested that an advisory committee should be limited to five to seven members.

            Mr. John Benton, President of the Lake County League of Cities, stated that his group will provide the name of an appointee by February 14, 2003.

            Ms. Jean Kaminski, Executive Director, Home Builders Association of Lake County, stated that she, or a representative, will serve on behalf of the Association.

            Commr. Cadwell stated that the advisory committee should be charged with a fact-finding mission and should bring back a recommendation to the body. He suggested that a member of the Industrial Development Authority be appointed to the advisory committee and that the deadline for conclusion of their work be March 19, 2003. Commr. Cadwell also suggested that the School Board appoint a parent member of the committee, bringing the total number of advisory committee members to seven.

            On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board of County Commissioners approved the appointment of Commr. Cadwell to the seven-member advisory committee.

            On a motion by Ms. Becky Elswick, seconded by Mr. Dennis Reid and carried unanimously, the Lake County School Board authorized the School Board Chairman and School Superintendent to appoint members to the advisory committee to represent the School Board, the School Superintendent and the parents.

            On a motion by Commr. Pool, seconded by Commr. Hanson and carried unanimously, by a 5-0 vote, the Board of County Commissioners authorized the Board Chairman to appoint a member of the Industrial Development Authority to the advisory committee.


            Commr. Cadwell stated that during last year’s budget process, the Board of County Commissioners, the School Board, the cities and the Sheriff made a pledge to each other to resolve the issue of school resource officers before the next budget process. He stated that a working plan should be formalized to resolve that issue.

            Regarding interlocal agreements, Commr. Cadwell stated that attorneys for the County Commission and the School Board should be directed to meet with the Planning Council to continue to work through the interlocal agreements.

            Mr. Mike Stearman, City Manager, City of Eustis, requested that city attorneys be included in those interlocal agreement meetings.

            Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, indicated that there has been significant work with the staffs, the County Manager, the Deputy County Manager, the School Board and the School Superintendent to draft interlocal agreements.

            Mr. Bill Neron, County Manager, commented that contact has been on going with the League of Cities through the Florida City and County Management Association and a line of communication is open.


            Mr. Conner stated that a big step forward has been taken in acknowledging the problem and, hopefully, setting forward a series of events that will occur that will lead to a solution. He stated that the path taken will allow all segments of the community to provide input. He reminded those in attendance that the advisory committee meetings will be open to the public and will be subject to Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law (Chapter 286, Florida Statutes) and that members may not discuss proposals with one another.

            Commr. Cadwell announced that the County Attorney will be present at the first advisory committee meeting to brief members on Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.

            Ms. Saylor thanked those in attendance and reminded the group that there were two purposes of the meeting. One purpose was to provide information and the second purpose was to begin a dialogue toward a solution. She indicated that her personal opinion is that today could be a defining moment for Lake County.

            Commr. Hanson commented that it is important that the advisory committee be charged with looking at more efficient uses of the facilities, including the directive given by the electorate in the referendum. She stated that the facilities are used very few hours of the total hours available and that may not be something the group wants to look at but it will be required to look at double sessions and year round schools and whether or not they are cost effective. She reiterated that the advisory committee should be charged with this issue.

            Commr. Cadwell and Mr. Conner agreed that the advisory committee will be very busy in the next 30 days and should focus on the two most important issues.

            Commr. Hanson clarified that the two most important issues are interlocal agreements and impact fees, but the utilization of facilities could affect those recommendations.

            Commr. Pool stated that Lake County is playing catch up with transportation, education and recreation. He stated that it is important to see this as a regional issue, not just local, and that legislators should be included in trying to find solutions to funding problems. He mentioned other possible sources of revenue which could generate billions of dollars including a one penny statewide tax and lottery terminals at the Jai Alai and dog tracks. He stated that we need to expand our horizons and be thinking of any and every way to fund education.


            There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, Commr. Cadwell adjourned the meeting at 11:00 a.m.