In 2002 Sarasota County made a commitment to upgrading our education system.
Did we need it? Desperately! At that time we had almost 2000 people a day moving into our state and ranked close to the bottom of the 50 in quality of education. We needed to make some changes, and we have. Sarasota County’s educational system has moved forward significantly. Our schools come back with well above average grades across the county, and have even received some recognition on a national level…although our state, as a whole still has a long way to go.
There has never been a time as important as now, to continue to move forward with our commitment to increasing the quality of education for our students. Sound, sustainable economic development requires several things, including a commitment to investing in education. Our previous economic model was built primarily on tourism, construction and agriculture. The amount of education and the skill sets necessary to support that model are not the same as those necessary to support the future economic growth of Sarasota County.
In his book Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida states that people used to move to where companies were, and now companies are moving to where people want to live. If we are to capitalize on the natural resources that come with living in this beautiful area, to tap into the intellectual capital available, and to build an economic model that embraces innovative enterprises; investing in an emerging workforce that has the capacity to participate actively in this endeavor is crucial.
The Referendum on March 16th isn’t about raising taxes. It isn’t even about having all the answers or even getting it all right. It is simply about continuing forward with the commitment that we have already made and voting YES to renew what we have already started.