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A Shared Vision - Businesses and K-12 Education Working Together for Our Graduates' Futures.

Our Opportunities

We have studied the nation’s most celebrated, locally-led school district reform efforts from around the country and identified common ingredients to success: districts and public education stakeholders working together to deliver high-quality educational options that parents want using a multi-pronged approach.


Polk County has great schools and educators, but our parents need more access to high-quality educational options: to be competitive and forward-thinking, we need to focus on reducing waiting lists and bringing more options to create the best educational ecosystem.

student performance


Most of Polk County's A-rated public schools have long waiting lists, leaving thousands of students with no availability to attend. Lakeland’s talent pipeline is at risk. Due to a lack of available qualified professionals, Polk County businesses must recruit from outside the county. But many, citing lack of access to A-rated public schools for their children, won’t move here. Instead, they send their children — and the per-pupil funding that follows them — to other Florida school districts.


Polk County’s future is brighter if we get this right: rising student achievement today means a more prosperous Polk County tomorrow. Employers will be able to hire the high-skill talent they need to operate and thrive in Polk County. Our county's tax base will have the means to meet local government budget demands and will be able to compete and thrive in the 21st-century knowledge economy.

The Need

Instead of taking a neutral role in education performance and policy, Lakeland Leads stands beside their education leaders to work in partnership to produce a skilled workforce of tomorrow. 

Currently, 71% of our Lakeland Schools are C/D rated, therefore only 29% of students attend high-performing schools.

For the past ten years, Polk School District has been the lowest-ranked district compared to similar size districts.

Statewide Polk District is currently ranked 55 out of 67 districts and for the past ten years has been in the lowest 25% of all districts in Florida.

Thirty-two of our forty-two schools in Lakeland have a 75% to 100%  economically disadvantaged student population.

“A good education is a gift that makes a big difference in our society; it cannot be taken away once it is received.  We must provide the next generation with a quality education system to ensure Polk County continues flourishing.  That’s why I am grateful for Lakeland Leads’ important, results-oriented work positioning the organizations that call Polk County home for long-lasting success.”

Jeremiah Kossen, President/CEO, Publix Employees Federal Credit Union

Our Approach


Lakeland Leads will research and launch best practices for education in Lakeland. 


Our decisions will be data-driven for quality improvement and future strategies. 


Lakeland Leads will hold performance accountability and conduct transparent communication. 

Support Our Mission

To Transform Lakeland’s Schools

Now is your chance to get involved and make an impact on education solutions. We know school quality matters for students and their futures, which is why our goal to increase the number of students learning in great public schools.