POINCIANA – Next week, a group of community activists is holding a special education meeting, and encouraging the residents of the Polk County side of Poinciana to turn out for an event aimed at making a huge transformation at Lake Marion Creek Elementary School – namely, by ensuring that elementary school students no longer go there.
The meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the school at 3055 Lake Marion Creek Drive in Poinciana.
‘’We want as many residents as possible to turn out,’’ said Wendy Farrell. ‘’We need the community to get on board and get behind us.’’
Farrell is on the board of directors of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, or PEDA, the non-profit group that organized this meeting. PEDA is working to promote more job growth and economic development in Poinciana, and part of their mission is also to get more services on the Polk County side of Poinciana. The 10 villages in Poinciana, with more than 84,000 residents, are divided between Polk and Osceola counties.
Most of the schools in Poinciana, though, are on the Osceola County side – including all three high schools, Poinciana High, Liberty High, and New Dimensions High. Residents of the Polk County side of Poinciana, who pay no property taxes to Osceola County, can’t attend those schools and instead attend Haines City High School.
Polk County has only built two elementary schools in Poinciana, Palmetto and Lake Marion Creek, and no middle or high schools there.
That’s true even though there are 31,000 residents living on the Polk County side of Poinciana, which has far fewer services funded by Polk taxpayers.
PEDA organized the meeting on Wednesday to discuss making a push to have Lake Marion – which was originally supposed to be a middle school – transition to that academic level, said the group’s chairman, Nick Murdock.
“We want to make it a middle school, which is what it was supposed to be when it was first built,” he said. “We’re hoping residents turn out to support that goal.”
Lake Marion Creek was built as a middle school in 2007, but started serving as elementary K-5 instead because the need for classrooms for younger kids became so critical as the community experienced a population boom.
Now PEDA wants Polk County School officials to reconsider that decision, which is why they organized Wednesday’s meeting.
“It’s to get public support and input on this,” Farrell said. “We are looking to turn Lake Marion Creek into a middle school, as it was intended to be.”
There’s land available around the school, she added, for an expansion of the property if needed. That enables the Polk County residents of Poinciana to have their own middle school and not have to send their children to a neighboring community instead.
“We really do need this to happen,” Farrell said.
PEDA was formed in the summer of 2011 by a group of community activists, including Murdock and Farrell, who wanted to find ways to promote business growth and economic development in a community very hard hit by the collapse of the housing market.
Poinciana rode a building boom wave when the housing market was soaring, and between 2004 and 2007, homes were getting built here every 90 days.
But when the housing market collapsed, the community was left with a painfully high unemployment rate and home foreclosure rate.
Since last summer, PEDA has expanded its mission and is now working to bring more services into the community, including a Salvation Army office and a public park on the Polk County side of Poinciana. Polk County is now building the park there, but it’s being done in phases, and is expected to take five years to complete. PEDA is pushing for a faster construction schedule.
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