Quality of Life
Eastside High School is home to the Institute of Culinary Arts and Entrepreneurship Magnet program. [Photo: Gene Bednarek]
Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
The reputation is strong for elementary, middle and high schools alike. Generous voters help. They passed an extra-mil property tax in 2008 to fund arts programming in the schools and offset state budget cuts. In addition to posting the highest SAT scores in the state, the district has the highest rate of passed Advanced Placement tests in Florida. Four of the county's high schools are included in Newsweek's 2010 list of "America's Best High Schools," with Eastside, known for its IB program, Institute of Culinary Arts and Entrepreneurship Magnet, in the top 20. But while the district earned an overall "A" on Florida's statewide grading system last year, it hasn't been able to turn around several east side schools; nearly a quarter of students don't graduate; and 55% of 10th-graders did not pass the reading portion of the 2010 FCAT.
» In 2009, Alachua County ranked 7th among Florida's 67 counties in crime, with 5,004 crimes per 100,000 residents.
» In 2008, Alachua County ranked 35th in the state in total per capita taxes levied.
Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art [Photo: Gainesville/Alachua County VCB]
• Arts & Culture
» Gainesville enjoys the art, music, theatrical, dance and literary offerings of a much larger city, from the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra to the Hippodrome State Theatre downtown to the Dance Alive National Ballet. The UF Cultural Plaza is home to the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Florida Museum of Natural History with its permanent Butterfly Rainforest exhibit — an enormous, screened vivarium with 60 to 80 species at any given time and hundreds of free-flying butterflies. Santa Fe College ads to the mix a 10-acre teaching zoo, training ground for the college's zookeeper students and also open to the public, as well as the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, with digital sky projectors.