Orlando: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

In the state of Florida, each county is its own school district. The Orange County public school system is the twelfth largest district in the nation and is the fifth largest in Florida. It is divided into five communities. The Orange County school board consists of seven members who represent individual districts but are elected countywide. Members must live in the districts they represent while serving staggered, four-year terms. The superintendent is appointed.

The Orange County school district offers pre-kindergarten classes in 85 of its elementary schools. All high schools offer some advanced placement and honors courses. Magnet programs are available in all high schools and some elementary schools in such areas aviation/aerospace, language, fine arts, science, economics, medicine, law, finance, animal science, and international studies. Tech Prep and Architects for Tomorrow are two public-school programs that prepare young students for life after graduation. Programs are available for students who are physically or emotionally handicapped, learning disabled, speech and language or hearing impaired, autistic, or visually impaired. Occupational and physical therapy programs are also available. Gifted education programs are offered at elementary, middle, and high school level.

The following is a summary of data regarding Orlando's public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.

Total enrollment: 174,060

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 108

junior high/middle schools: 27

senior high schools: 16

other: 4 alternative/exceptional schools

Student/teacher ratio: elementary, 16:1

Teacher salaries

average: $38,139

Funding per pupil: $6,409

Public Schools Information: Orange County Public Schools, 445 W. Amelia St., Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)317-3200

Colleges and Universities

Within the Orlando area are two fully accredited four-year institutions of higher learning, Orlando's University of Central Florida (UCF) and Rollins College in Winter Park. UCF is a public state university based in Orlando and having three regional campuses. More than 42,000 students are offered undergraduate, graduate, and specialist programs in business, education, engineering, health sciences, nursing, as well as emerging fields of high technology, including aviation and aerospace, biotechnology, and modeling, simulation and training. Rollins College, a private institution, was founded in 1885. Primarily a coeducational liberal arts institution, Rollins College offers bachelor's degrees in 36 fields and graduate study in business administration, education, and psychology. With a total enrollment of 3,726, Rollins, which has produced Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater, and Truman scholars, is listed consistently by U.S. News & World Report magazine as one of "America's Best Colleges."

Valencia Community College, which serves more than 53,000 students, has six campuses and offers a science degree program in laser/electro-optics as well as a technical film training program. Seminole Community College, with an enrollment of 32,195, offers traditional academic and industry-oriented courses of study.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Orange County Library System consists of the Orlando Public Library and 14 branches. The system houses approximately two million books, periodicals, DVDs, CDs, art reproductions, slides and maps. Its special collections include the Walt Disney World Collection, the Florida Collection, the Genealogy Collection, and state documents.

Located adjacent to the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the Central Florida Research Park, one of the top science parks in the world. The park is a joint venture between the university and Orange County to promote relations between industry and the university. Consisting of about 1,000 acres, it is occupied by more than 80 companies in the fields of simulation and training, lasers, optical filters, behavioral sciences, diagnostic test equipment, and oceanographic equipment. One of the park's major tenants is the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, the world's leading simulation center for military training. Affiliated with UCF are a number of other research centers that focus on such diverse fields as electro-optics and lasers, tourism, sinkhole research, solar energy, and small business development.

Public Library Information: Orange County Library System, c/o Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)835-7323.