august 30, 2011

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in a special joint meeting session with the School Board on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. in the Auditorium of Lake Minneola High School, Minneola, Florida.  Commissioners present at the meeting were:  Jennifer Hill, Chairman; Leslie Campione, Vice Chairman; Sean Parks; and Welton G. Cadwell, as well as School Board members Debbie Stivender, Rosanne Brandeburg, Kyleen Fischer, and Jim Miller; and Dr. Susan Moxley, Superintendent.  Commissioner Jimmy Conner and School Board member Tod Howard were not present.  Others present were:  Darren Gray, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; and Shannon Treen, Deputy Clerk.

welcome and introduction

Dr. Susan Moxley, Superintendent for Lake County Schools, welcomed everyone to the meeting.  She introduced Ms. Eloise Pitts, who represented the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and stated that Ms. Pitts would be making a presentation to Lake Minneola High School Principal Linda Shepherd-Miller.

Ms. Eloise Pitts presented a flag and explained that the DAR was very pleased and honored to present that to the school.  She read a plaque that stated “this is to certify that the accompanying flag was flown over the United States Capitol on December 27, 1999 at the request of the honorable Allen Boyd in honor of Bonard Pitts.

Dr. Moxley thanked Ms. Pitts for attending the meeting and for her gracious donation.  She then led the moment of silence and Ms. Pitts and Principal Shepherd-Miller led the Pledge of Allegiance.

tour of lake minneola high school

School Board Chairman Debbie Stivender stated that they would first take a tour of Lake Minneola High School and would then return to discuss the remaining agenda items.

Principal Shepherd-Miller mentioned that they had been given an opportunity to shape and mold the school culture and to focus on high expectations and student success, adding that she was confident that the staff would rise to meet those challenges.  She related that the school was proud to be able to showcase their new facility to the Commissioners and the School Board.  She, along with Dr. Maggie Teachout, Director of Career-Technical, Adult and Community Education, then led the tour, starting in the culinary arts lab and continuing into the chemistry lab.  The tour moved into the rotunda where it was mentioned that artwork would eventually be displayed.  The tour progressed into the media center and it was noted that because most of the books were available online, there were not many on the shelves.  The tour continued into the biomedical sciences classroom, the Mandarin Chinese classroom and the lab for automation production classes.  The television production class and studio was toured, as well as the gaming and animation production class, the commercial art class, the drafting lab and the daycare for the early childhood development program.

career and technical education handouts

Dr. Moxley explained the informational handouts, noting that Dr. Teachout created a 2011 career pathways planning guide.  She added that the guide gave additional information about the career and technical education programs that were available throughout the County.  She stated that the career and technical education facts sheet showed data comparisons between students involved in career and technical education as opposed to those that were not, adding that they saw great successes with those students.  She related that Commr. Cadwell gave them information regarding an interactive game called “Counties Work” that was created by the National Association of Counties (NACo) in partnership with iCivics and explained that they were in the process of working with them on that resource.  She noted that they were working on two other projects, including the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, which was a joint venture with the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida and the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida, as well as the Teaching American History grant.  She pointed out that they were trying to bring resources to the civics class that would start in the 7th grade, adding that the teachers were receiving ongoing training for that.  She reported that Lake County Schools was awarded $25,000 for the Excellence in Economic Education grant from the Council for Economic Education and explained that it would implement a teacher training program so that the teachers would have enhanced strategies for economic and financial literacy and would create benchmarks for the social studies programs.  She noted that it would also provide a valid and reliable end-of-course exam that would measure student learning in an area not assessed by the FCAT.

update on sidewalks, traffic and road closings near lake minneola high school and minneola

athletic complex

Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, passed out maps showing the existing and proposed sidewalks on Turkey Farm Road, as well as the North Hancock Road extension.  He stated that the drawings showed their plans to address the issues on Turkey Farm Road, adding that a traffic light was installed on Old Highway 50, but the additional traffic from the high school and elementary school still created a challenge.  He explained that it would cost approximately $225,000 to $230,000 for the proposed sidewalks on Turkey Farm Road.  He pointed out that the other concern was the sidewalks on Old Highway 50, noting that there was limited right of way on the north end of the 1,400 foot segment, as well as slope issues.  He added that it would cost approximately $130,000 for that sidewalk and they had budgeted another $20,000 for appraisals.  He stated that they were trying to determine whether it would be worth spending the money on a sidewalk as opposed to another long term solution, such as continuing to shuttle the students to the school.  He then discussed the North Hancock Road extension, explaining that in 2007 they hired a consultant to start a Project Development & Environment (PD&E) study with the City of Minneola for the extension of Hancock Road to the school.  He noted that they had allocated $60 million to buy the right of way, but they were looking at a phased approach of building two lanes and adding the sidewalk, then coming back to build the additional two lanes.  He specified that the plan was to shift Old Highway 50 and Turkey Farm Road east, eliminating the current traffic light and installing a new traffic light at a new intersection of the Hancock Road extension and Old Highway 50.  He added that would be more of an open area to put turn lanes in and would allow for better flow of traffic.  He mentioned that the money was budgeted for the right of way acquisition and added that they were hoping it would cost less so that they could use the savings towards the construction costs.

Commr. Parks commented that he appreciated how quickly they were working on the issue and opined that those were the best short term and long term solutions for the students’ safety.

Ms. Stivender mentioned that they did implement a temporary solution of bussing the students, noting that they did not get reimbursed from the State for the expense.  She opined that the Board and the School Board should work together to create a funding mechanism, since it would cost them about $7,200 each year for the busses.

Mr. Darren Gray, County Manager, pointed out that Mr. Stivender would present the five year road program to the Board on September 13, 2011, adding that project would be included as well.

Mr. Stivender commented that the five year road program also included improvements to Johns Lake Road to address the sidewalk and road issues near Lost Lake Elementary School in Clermont.  He added that the County also received a grant to install a traffic light and a sidewalk by South Lake High School in Clermont.

Commr. Parks then discussed the Minneola Athletic Complex (MAC), noting that there was an agreement between the City of Minneola and the County for $500,000 to improve the MAC and to add an additional field.  He explained that it would be a County facility so it would be available to all of Lake County and added that they would work with the School Board to accommodate the high school’s needs for the facility.

Ms. Stivender related that Dr. Tod Howard was going to discuss the issue of a road closing near the school and noted that there did not seem to be any problems on the first day of school.

Mr. Stivender explained that they were thinking of barricading certain roads to the north of school if there had been traffic issues when leaving the school.

Overview of the lake county economic action plan

Commr. Campione expressed her appreciation to the School Board in allowing them to see the new school and the different classrooms and programs that were offered there.  She stated that she would be giving a brief overview of the County’s efforts and initiatives with economic development, adding that the full version of the Economic Action Plan was on the County’s website.  She noted that they decided to tackle the economic challenges by three approaches, including removing obstacles and policies that impeded business activity, implementing policies that facilitated start-up businesses and second tier expansions, and to position themselves so that when the national recovery began to materialize, they would be in the best place possible to realize their vision of having a diversification of commercial tax base and creating jobs in Lake County.  She related that an integral part of the plan was the coordination and collaboration with other economic development partners and stakeholders, such as municipalities, chambers of commerce, manufacturers, retailers, sports industries, education partners and the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC).  She stated that the strategic objective was to be recognized as the most proactive county in the Central Florida region for economic development and tourism and added that through the leadership of the County’s new Economic Development Director, Mr. Scott Blankenship, they were in the process of implementing a new sub-regional approach to economic development.  She elaborated that they divided the County into three micro-regions with the goal that each region would have a business development center and an incubator program.  She noted that the business development centers would offer entrepreneurial training and technical support for expanding and start-up businesses and the incubator program would facilitate new business ideas that would create spin-off industries and potential industry clusters.  She added that each region would have an economic coordinator that would work with existing businesses to determine their workforce needs and would work closely with municipal partners on emerging workforce areas that crossed jurisdictional lines.  She then explained the strategic corridors, noting that the Health and Wellness Way concept would target industries related to health and wellness, the Corporate and Technology Park in Mount Dora would be an employment center to target those areas, and in Leesburg there would be a plan to target energy and aerospace.  She showed a slide that listed the targeted industries of the Metro Orlando EDC and pointed out that the modeling, simulation and training industry was one of the targeted areas.  She explained that they asked the President/Executive Director of the National Center for Simulation to make a presentation about that industry and then introduced Retired United States Air Force (USAF) Lieutenant General Thomas Baptiste.

Lt. Gen. Baptiste stated that the National Center for Simulation was located in the Research Park adjacent to the University of Central Florida (UCF), adding that it was a regional trained association that represented 180 member companies and other organizations that were involved in the modeling, simulation and training industry.  He expressed that Central Florida had become the epicenter of the modeling, simulation and training industry in all of the United States because there were more companies involved and more money spent in the area.  He explained that the Navy was given 40 acres in the Research Park to create the modeling, simulation and training center and stated that educational programs were implemented at all levels of education.  He noted that UCF was one of the first to offer graduate degrees in modeling, simulation and training and Daytona State College offered a two year program in robotics and simulation technology.  He added that UCF was one of the leading institutions that implemented a series of incubators that nurtured modeling, simulation and training companies as well as other businesses.  He stated that Team Orlando was a $5 billion industry, had 2,800 personnel, and had become a center of excellence for modeling, simulation and training.  He noted that it included the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Army, joint commands, academia, and industry and pointed out that there was also a small command from the Air Force Agency for Modeling Simulation.  He related that it was the proximity that the Research Park provided that fostered collaboration, cooperation and partnership that made Central Florida different than many other clusters.  He noted that there was a high tech corridor from Tampa and Saint Petersburg through Orlando to Daytona Beach, adding that there were always clusters of that industry near major military installations.  He stated that for 60 years that technology and its applications had been aimed at the war fighter, but now there were opportunities to focus on medical.  He noted that Orlando’s Medical City at Lake Nona started with UCF’s medical school and was followed by the Sanford Burnham Institute and the Nemours Children’s Hospital.  He added that MD Anderson Cancer Research Institute and a UCF Research Institute would eventually be built.  He related that Celebration Health was going to open a new expanded robotics surgery training facility that would allow them to train over 20,000 robotic surgeons each year and noted that the Florida Hospital System was also aggressive in finding ways to integrate simulation in training healthcare providers.  He stated that the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in Tampa, which was a partnership between the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital, had raised $40 million to build a free standing medical modeling, simulation and training center of excellence and noted that the VA Medical Center at Lake Nona was under construction for a 60,000 square foot center as well.  He opined that there were many opportunities emerging for that technology including education, transportation, Homeland Security, digital media, gaming, and entertainment and stated that their challenge was to attract, grow, maintain and enhance the modeling, simulation and training industry in Central Florida.

Commr. Cadwell asked what the main infrastructure was that he was looking for.

Lt. Gen. Baptiste responded that they needed people to train workforce, adding that Lake County Schools should get the students excited to pursue an education and stay in Lake County.

Commr. Parks asked if there were programs to help students who were struggling in school with grades because of a lack of interest in school.

Lt. Gen. Baptiste mentioned the gaming class that was offered at Lake Minneola High School and explained that they could leverage what those students enjoyed doing to immerse them in a training and education program so that they were having fun while learning.

joint discussion on next steps

Mr. Gray stated that they were putting together an economic summit which was currently scheduled for November 14, 2011 at Mission Inn and added that he would send the School Board the information on it once it was finalized.

public input

Mr. Rick Roderick, Minneola City Council member, stated that he was concerned about the students who walked to Lake Minneola High School and suggested the County put in temporary barriers for a sidewalk for those students.

Mr. Russ Sloan from Lake Sumter Community College opined that reading was the most fundamental skill for children to master and stated that he would like to see Lake County have the finest reading program in Florida.  He added that there was nothing more important to economic development than a good school system and he expressed his appreciation for the School Board and for the joint meeting.

board member comments

Commr. Parks expressed that he was very impressed with the high school and thought it would be great for South Lake.  He noted that the joint meetings were very important and hoped they would continue on a regular basis.

Commr. Campione commented that she appreciated having the chance to tour the high school and to have the joint meeting, adding that she hoped those meetings would be ongoing and that they could partner together to have a vision and lay a foundation for economic development.

Commr. Cadwell noted that the School Board had a tough job and although the Board would not tell them what to do, they still needed to work together and have meetings to discuss any concerns.

Commr. Hill expressed her appreciation to the School Board for hosting the meeting and stated that they were trying to understand all that the School Board did and how to incorporate that into the County’s economic development in a positive way.

Ms. Kyleen Fischer stated that she appreciated the efforts of Commr. Hill and Ms. Stivender in coordinating the meeting and for Dr. Moxley because she was always gracious in helping them understand the direction they needed to move in.  She noted that Lake Minneola High School was an exact example of how all of the schools in Lake County should function, adding that they needed to diversify all of those courses across the County.  She commented that Dr. Teachout did a good job with the tour and thanked Principal Shepherd-Miller for allowing them to view the school.

Ms. Rosanne Brandeburg mentioned that it was great for the community to see the Board and the School Board working together, adding that the meetings needed to continue because they both had the same goals of making Lake County a great place to live with a great educational system.

Dr. Moxley related that it was interesting to see the plan of dividing the County into a sub-region approach because the school district had also taken the same approach and created three learning zones to better align the career technical education programs to those regions.  She stated that she was interested in working with the County on forming partnerships with the emerging industries.

Ms. Stivender explained that one of her goals when coming to the School Board was to have a better working relationship between them and the Board.  She noted that the School Board was trying to have a better understanding with other government agencies so that they could all work together to accomplish the overall goal of having the best county.


There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.



JENNIFER hill, chairman