LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A panel of speakers at the Kiwanis of Lakewood Ranch Educational Leadership Luncheon touted the achievements of Manatee County educational institutions Saturday.
Two Florida state senators also discussed the recent legislative session that ended May 3 at the luncheon at the Polo Grill.
This was the secondyear the Kiwanis group sponsored the leadership luncheon.
"There's so many challenges taking place in the county," said Jane Grace, who with fellow Kiwanis member Julie Aranibar organized the event.
"People are concerned about what's happening in education," Grace said.
Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, told the crowd of around 70 people that she worked on a complete rewrite of foster care laws in Florida.
The changes will provide a more stable environment for the children in foster care, which will lead to them performing better in schools, Detert explained.
Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who served as chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, reported on the increase in funds the new budget allocates for education.
Manatee County will receive $22 million, Galvano said.
Dr. Bonnie Jones, regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, said the $40 million the Legislature restored in the state university system budget will go a long way to create degree opportunities.
For example, USF Sarasota-Manatee will receive $2 million for the science laboratories the university is building in cooperation with Mote Marine Laboratory, Jones said.
She also said the university on U.S. 41 in Manatee County now serves more than 4,000 students, and they hope to grow to 10,000.
State College of Florida President Carol Probstfeld boasted about all the awards the students at the college have achieved over the past year.
Probstfeld also outlined all of the cooperative program SCF has with all of the other educational institutions in the county.
For Manatee County School District Superintendent Rick Mills, who has been on the job for only 51 days, he said the biggest challenge the district faces is financial, but said the district will move beyond that by creating a great budget this coming year.