By ASHLEY AMASON
Vice-Chair Sharon Roberts absent, the remaining Walton County School Board (WCSB) approved student use of cell phones and other electronic devices on school buses at the Aug. 18 meeting.
Director of Transportation Tom Blackshear expressed many bus drivers prefer students have use of electronic devices. Use of these devices is still prohibited on campus during school hours.
The board also approved the safe driver plan, which states any employee who knows his or her license has been suspended or revoked yet drives a school district vehicle, bus or otherwise, shall be subject to dismissal pending the board’s recommendation.
Walton High School begins its charter year this week, but could still stand to face some construction. Supt. Carlene Anderson and board member Mark Davis noted several outdoor air conditioning units as well as a generator distract from the building’s overall aesthetic appeal. Commenting on the cooling units on the side of the building, Anderson said, “Aesthetically, that’s unpleasant.” Davis said the 14-foot-tall white generator “sticks out like a sore thumb.”
Solutions are to brick around the units and generator or partially cover with foliage. The board authorized Elliot Marshall Innes to render drawings of masonry walls around the mechanical courtyards, as well as a specific cost analysis. The ballpark estimate for the walls stands at $215,000 -310,000.
Mary Lou Reed, executive director of the Workforce Board of Okaloosa and Walton Counties, presented a slideshow to the board of the Summer Youth Employment Program. The program—which hosts youth most at risk to become drop-outs, in or aging out of foster care, youth offenders, homeless and runaway youth, children of incarcerated parents, and youth with disabilities—provides the opportunity for summer work experience with CHELCO, Gulf Power, and the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. Principal of the Walton Career Development Center, Mike Davis said, “I saw a real difference in the maturity level of these students during the program. They would look you in the eye and shake your hand.”
Reed praised the program’s success and noted hope for further funding in upcoming years.
By ASHLEY AMASON