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New educational opportunities coming to Polk County

From early childhood education to schools for underserved communities, here are the educational opportunities coming soon to the Lakeland + Polk areas that we’re watching.

A group of five sit on stools in a panel discussion

Katie Worthington-Decker of the LEDC moderated the panel featuring (left to right): Melody Rider, Alec Macaulay, Sheila Paul, and Superintendent Frederick Heid.

Photo by Jacob Blair, Blair Media Company

Table of Contents

School is already underway for Polk County Public Schools, but on Monday, Superintendent Frederick Heid said he’s keeping a close eye on the future.

Heid met with other local education leaders at the Lakeland Economic Development Council meeting on Aug. 28. In addition to the superintendent, three other panelists took part in a conversation moderated by the LEDC’s Senior Vice President, Katie Worthington Decker. The panel included:

We’re breaking down what you need to know about changes coming for Polk students, starting with IDEA Schools.

IDEA Schools

A man in a dark blue suit speaks into a microphone

Alec Macaulay of IDEA School spoke to Lakeland business owners.

Photo by Jacob Blair, Blair Media Company

IDEA Public Schools is a high-performing, high-achieving K12 charter network. Initially from Texas, the tuition-free education group has been helping students get to and through college for 20+ years.

At its core, IDEA aims to serve historically underserved populations and provide them with access to high-quality educational choices and options.

Fast facts:

  • IDEA students graduate from colleges at a rate six times higher than their peers.
  • 94% of IDEA Schools students in Florida are economically disadvantaged.
  • Enrollment will be open to all of Polk.
A gray building will soon be IDEA School.

IDEA School is coming to Lakeland’s north side.

Image via Google Maps

What’s next for Lakeland
IDEA isn’t entirely new to Florida. There are already two campuses in Tampa, two in Jacksonville, and soon, one is coming to Lakeland. The school will be located at 1775 Interstate Dr., off of Kathleen Road in the old GC Services LP building.

With the building already one-third built out and functional, a tentative opening has been set for August 2024.

Looking to join the cause? Jobs are posted on the website. The team is looking for teachers with knowledge of the Lakeland community to join the IDEA-trained teachers on staff.

Keep your eyes out for more updates on IDEA School, Bezos Academy, and other educational opportunities for Lakeland students.