The newly-created Palm Beach Schools district Business Partnership Advisory Group has swung into gear following its first meeting  Jan. 26 on the campus of  John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres.

The 16-member group represents a diverse cross-section of businesses from small, independently owned companies and services businesses, to medium and large corporations, a school district statement said. 

Its purpose is to provide advice and leadership in developing and expanding partnerships that foster academic success for students.

The business partnership effort, along with the new advisory group, is an initiative of the district through its Public Affairs Department to create business-education links built on shared values and community involvement.

The advisory group will meet three times during the school year.

The district has recruited and now has more than 900 business partners who provide a wide range of resources annually for student safety and achievement. The district put the estimated annual dollar value of these resources at between $3 million and $4 million. They typically include financial support, goods, services, equipment, volunteers, mentors, student services, instruction and expertise.

“The number and scope of business-education partnerships in the district continues to increase significantly,” Jimmy Peterkin, District Business Partnership coordinator, said. “We’ve aggressively increased our recruitment efforts because the economy has stretched school budgets and schools and their students need all the help from community businesses that we can help provide.

“We’ve increased school-based and departmental partnerships for Palm Beach County  51 percent during the school year 2009-2010,” Peterkin said.