On July 24, the gym at Minneola City Hall was filled with table displays and information from Minneola area schools, their programs and community after-school programs and resources.

Mayor Pat Kelley welcomed attendees and spoke of the value of living in a community where education is a top priority.  Everyone wants to live and work in a community where schools receive high marks, he said.

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In an effort to focus on the growing needs of its soaring residential population, Mayor Kelley and council members Pam Serviss, Lisa Jones, Kelly Price and Joe Saunders unanimously voted this year to place a moratorium on new residential annexations or rezoning until January 2023. Instead, the city will concentrate on the needs of its residents.

The strategy is working well for the city. Mayor Kelley announced that plans are in the works for a waterpark, exercise/gym area, BMX track, skate/rollerblade area and a splash pad. A new library will be constructed because of a recent $500,000 grant. Kelley is hoping that by targeting the needs of the youth in the community, kids will get off their video games and out of their homes.

Diane Kornegay, Superintendent Lake County Schools, presented her vision for Lake County Schools and discussed the state of Lake County’s Schools performance ratings and programs. https://www.lake.k12.fl.us

Bill Mathias, Lake County School Board Member, District 1, urged attendees to consider voting yes on a referendum that if approved on the Aug. 28 ballot will add an additional 0.75-mill on property tax. This small increase will help the district:

  • Implement the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act;
  • Enhance school safety, security and mental health services; and
  • Create a sustainable funding source critical to improving safety for our children, prevention programs and services, and emergency response.

If approved, the tax would begin July 1, 2019, and end June 30, 2023. The owner of a home with an assessed value of $125,000 and homestead exemption of $25,000 would pay $75 per year. A small fee for the safety of our children.

It is estimated that the increase would generate about $16 million per year that would help the district hire an adequate number of school safety employees including social workers, counselors and nurses. It would also help pay for recommended in-house alternative education programs, in-school suspension programs and school hardening measures that would make buildings and classrooms more secure. And it would help cover the cost of the extra resource officers the district is adding this year.

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Peyton Grinnell, Lake County Sheriff, presented School Safety Initiatives.  He stressed the importance of parents getting involved in the lives of their kids.  He also spoke on zero tolerance that will be shown to anyone who appears to be a security threat to students. He encouraged everyone: students, teachers, parents to “Speak Out”, basically…. if you see something, say something.

Superintendent Diane Kornegay presented a recognition plaque to the Gregg and Strimenos Families for the property donated for Lake Minneola High School.

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