Alachua County Education Compact Aims to Improve Opportunities for Employers, Students and School ChildrenMay 18th, 2015 by gainesvillechamber
Pledging their commitment to transforming education, job and career opportunities for Alachua County students and school children, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Tim Giuliani and more than 20 of the region’s business, government, community and education leaders—including University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs, Ph.D., Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser, Ph.D., and Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts, Ph.D—today signed the Alachua County Education Compact. The aim of the Compact is to facilitate the achievement of six goals that would result in all students graduating from high school; having access to and being prepared for college and/or career success; having access to pathways to sustainable jobs and careers; developing healthy lifestyle habits, an appreciation for the arts and a sense of social responsibility.
“The Alachua County Education Compact signals our community’s commitment to outcomes now and over the long term that will measurably benefit our kids,” said Gainesville Area Chamber President/CEO Tim Giuliani. “Those outcomes would reflect improved school readiness, increased high school graduation rates, and students prepared to be the aligned, talented workforce our region needs to both create and seize opportunity.”
The Compact—which would will augment and help to coordinate existing efforts to facilitate connections between business and academia—seeks to create greater opportunities for students and schools, ultimately benefiting local businesses by creating a talent pipeline and workforce armed with relevant skills, and better prepared to provide and create value for employers.
“Schools are the lifeblood in the community, and until all Alachua County students and school children have access to school readiness and career opportunities, we all have work to do,” said University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs, Ph.D, who also noted the Compact goals support the University’s ability to recruit world-class faculty.
Several Compact goals also align with Superintendent Owen Roberts’ efforts to propel the school district to new heights.
“A community cannot rise above the ability of its people,” said Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts. “Here in Alachua County, we have the capacity, brain trust, economic opportunity and heart to create the kind of talent needed to ensure a bright future for our students, children and region.”
In addition to those outlined by the Superintendent, Alachua County has education assets—including the state’s preeminent university and most educated workforce, the nation’s No. 1 community college, a K-12 system on the cusp of transformational change and, most recently, high schools ranking in the top two percent of high schools nationwide—that poise the county to leverage and realize opportunity by supporting and implementing education improvements to benefit all students and the region at-large.
“With the whole system working in unity to improve opportunities, every student can win,” said Santa Fe Community College President Jackson Sasser, who posed a pivotal question during his remarks: “By not doing this, who are we selecting to not be successful?”
Since 2013, multiple discussions around education in Alachua county have evolved into a larger, more focused and action-centered conversation around a community-wide effort to improve and align education with the talent needs of business. Throughout the dialogue, community leaders, including Santa Fe College East Gainesville Initiative Executive Director Karen Cole-Smith, Ph.D., who also is a member of Envision Alachua’s Task Force on Education, have focused on ensuring that as economic development opportunities are created, bridges are built to include and benefit East Alachua County students.
“Education remains the great equalizer,” said Cole-Smith. “The Envision Alachua Task force was passionate about finding innovative, inclusive K-12 solutions that would help to ensure everyone in Alachua County has access to a high quality of life.”
The Alachua County Education Compact will facilitate a systemic and holistic approach to improving education outcomes by focusing on areas including K-12, early childhood education, parent education, higher education, workforce development and career preparedness. A Stewardship Committee of signers will be formed to identify Compact strategies and accountability measures. Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Workforce Development Ian Fletcher estimates that the Committee, strategies and measures will be established later this year no later than October.
Compact Signers include:
- John Carlson, Chair, Gainesville Chamber and CEO, Charles Perry Partners, Inc.
- Tim Giuliani, President/CEO, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Rick Staab, President/CEO, Intermed Biomedical and Chair, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation
- Jackson Sasser, President, Santa Fe College
- W. Kent Fuchs, President, University of Florida
- Owen Roberts, Superintendent, Alachua County Public Schools
- Leanetta McNealy, Chair, Alachua County Public Schools
- Sadie Darnell, Sheriff, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office
- Tony Jones, Chief, Gainesville Police Department
- Deborah Bowie, President/CEO, United Way of North Central Florida
- Diane Smith, Executive Director, Junior Achievement Alachua
- Evelyn Foxx, President, Alachua County Branch NAACP
- Judy Boles, Executive Director, Education Foundation of Alachua County
- Karen McCann, President, Alachua County Education Association
- Rose Fagler, Manager, Community Relations, Plum Creek
- Kevin Monroe, Executive Director of Operations, Central Florida, Cox Communications
- Don Davis, Vice Chair, CareerSource North Central Florida
- Rodney Long, President & Founder, Martin Luther King Commission
- Darry Lloyd, President, African American Accountability Alliance
- Ed Potts, President of the Alachua Chamber of Commerce
- Charles Chestnut IV, Chair, Alachua County Board of County Commissioners
- Ed Braddy, Mayor, City of Gainesville
- Gib Coerper, Mayor, City of Alachua
- Doug Jones, Mayor, City of Archer
- Matthew Surrency, Mayor, City of Hawthorne
- Barzella Papa, President/CEO, Community Foundation of North Central Florida
For more information about the Alachua County Education Compact, or to inquire about becoming a signer, contact Vice President of Workforce Development Ian Fletcher.