Polk County Public Schools’ history stretches back more than 150 years, to a time when students studied in one-room schoolhouses and the school calendar was built around the strawberry harvest. The Polk County Board of Public Instruction, which later became the Polk County School Board, was formed in 1869. By the turn of the century, the school district had grown to over eighty schools — and the growth hasn’t stopped.


Today, Polk County Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the nation, encompassing more than 150 schools and serving more than 110,000 students through both traditional K-12 schools and a variety of other programs. While expanding its physical footprint, Polk County Public Schools has also built a reputation for educational excellence, as evidenced by its more than 20 nationally accredited workforce academies, five Florida Arts Model Schools, and rising number of schools offering Advanced Placement and Cambridge International programs. In 2018, Polk County Public Schools garnered national attention for becoming one of the first districts to launch a school safety guardian program. Developed in conjunction with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the guardian program ensures every campus has either an armed school district employee or law enforcement officer on site.
As it grows and innovates, Polk County Public Schools remains true to its mission of delivering a high-quality education to every student … because at Polk County Public Schools, students always come first.

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Our Mission

The mission of Polk County Public Schools is to provide a high-quality education for all students.

In accomplishing this mission, we envision that students will effectively:

  • read, write, compute, speak, listen, and use complex thinking skills to solve problems
  • be self-directed in creating personal purpose and vision, setting priorities, choosing ethical action, and creating their own knowledge
  • cooperate and collaborate with others in working with and leading groups, interact positively in diverse settings, recognize the value and contributions of all individuals, and make positive contributions to their communities
  • understand and use social, organizational, and technological systems; design, monitor, improve and correct performance within a system; and create viable products

These desired student outcomes and practices will be fostered and nurtured in schools and classrooms in which:

  • adults assume instructional and ethical leadership to create efficient, effective environments perceived as safe, healthy, and equitable, where students are recognized as unique individuals capable of learning and independent thinking
  • adults use varied and reliable teaching and evaluative procedures through relevant curricula
  • adults enable students, families, and communities to work cooperatively to assume responsibility for the total educational experience
  • adults engage in professional growth and training activities to effect continuous improvement
  • students are guided in their total physical, mental and emotional development through activities that are student-centered and focus on positive expectations and encourage intrinsic motivation

Our District

Student Demographics

White: 35.5%
Hispanic: 39.9%
Black: 20%
Indian American/Pacific Islander: 0.4%
Asian: 1.5%
Multiracial: 2.7%

9.5% of our students are English Language Learners
14.6% are students with disabilities

7th Largest District In Florida
Among The 30 Largest Districts In The U.S







Polk County Public Schools serves students from a wide variety of backgrounds, with a broad spectrum of abilities, who possess unique educational and personal aspirations. PCPS offers educational programs for students of all ages and abilities, including:

  • Preschool programs for students as young as 3
  • Polk Virtual, a program for students seeking additional opportunities for acceleration or credit recovery
  • Innovative magnet/choice programs specializing in STEM and the arts
  • Nationally recognized workforce academies that offer students the opportunity to earn industry certifications
  • Accelerated programs, including dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, Cambridge International and International Baccalaureate, that prepare students for post-secondary study
  • Technical colleges for students who want to enter and advance in the workforce
  • Adult schools for older learners aiming to further their education
  • Transition, a program for adult students with special needs
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Approximately 110,890 students
*Nov. 15, 2021 enrollment report

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More than 150 schools

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7th largest school district consecutive years in Florida; among the 30 largest districts in the U.S.

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86.5 percent graduation rate (19-20), highest on record

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Districtwide accreditation by AdvancED

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4 Florida Teacher of the Year winners and 9 state finalists

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Nearly 30 certified or model career academies

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3 elementary, 4 middle and 2 high schools offering International Baccalaureate

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6 Florida Arts Model Schools

Our Community

Located in the heart of Central Florida, Polk County offers an unparalleled quality of life.
Polk County spans 2,011 square miles, making it larger than the state of Delaware. It includes 17 municipalities, ranging from Lakeland with a population of more than 110,000, to Dundee with a population of just over 5,000.
The area has a rich history in agriculture, and its landscape is still dotted with citrus groves, blueberry farms, cattle pastures and phosphate mines. In more recent years, Polk County has emerged as a hub for high-tech industries including logistics and supply chain distribution, advanced manufacturing, health sciences and aviation.
Polk County is home to LEGOLAND Florida, Bok Tower Gardens, the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Child of the Sun” collection, numerous golf courses, more than 500 freshwater lakes, a thriving local arts scene, community theaters, First Friday events — and more. It is also located just an hour from Tampa and Orlando, world-renowned beaches and amusement parks, and two international airports.

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County population: 724,777
*Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Community Partnerships

Polk County Public Schools has built mutually beneficial relationships with the county’s 17 municipalities, county government, Sheriff’s Office, higher education institutions, chambers of commerce, economic development councils, and numerous nonprofit organizations. These relationships resulted in the School Safety Guardian program and the ELITE teacher education program, both of which have served as models for other districts.

Community Facts

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10.5% lower cost of living than the national average and no state income tax

Lakeland is one of U.S. News & World Reports’ 150 best places to live in the U.S. (2020-21)

Home to LEGOLAND Florida, Bok Tower Gardens, and the Frank Lloyd Wright “Child of the Sun” Collection at Florida Southern College

Less than an hour from Tampa and Orlando

240 sunny days on average per year

World-class beaches, theme parks, and major league sports (MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL) less than an hour’s drive away