By ALICIA LEONARD
The Walton County School Board (WCSB) met on the afternoon of Aug. 6 for their last meeting before the start of the new school year.
All board members were present with the exception of Sharon Roberts. With no opening announcements, the four members moved swiftly to approve the agenda before them, the adoption of three sets of previous meeting minutes and consent agenda items, 4-0.
Under the action agenda, board members approved unanimously an inter-institutional agreement with Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) and the Walton County School District (WCSD) covering the new terms of dual enrollment for high school students. WCSD Superintendent stressed to the board that although the shifting of cost for these students was an “unfunded mandate” passed down to local districts across Florida from the legislature, NWFSC had been very generous with the district in allowing the district’s teachers to teach the courses on Walton campuses and allowances had been granted in tuition fee reductions to the school offsetting the cost, with the WCSD being responsible for the cost of text books. In past meetings when the switch had been discussed, some educators expressed the cost for the handing over of the program could run up towards $200,000 for the first year.
The board also approved unanimously to advertise notices of rule addendum development and a notice of intent to adopt rule addendum to the 2013-2014 student progression plan.
Under facilities and construction the board approved unanimously two construction contracts with LLT Building Corporation for amended improvements at Walton High School and a construction management contract with Lord and Sons Construction for the new Walton Middle School (WMS) project.
The board then looked at a master plan designed by Elliott, Marshall, Innes P.A. on possible designs for WMS. The overall plan put before them incorporates older buildings into newer construction, to make the overall layout of the school more concentrated and safe. Much discussion during the presentation ensued over possible bus routes and athletic field designs. Routes that would allow the dispersal and drop-off of students with the least disturbance to neighboring homes and wear on city maintained roads were discussed. Some felt that dispersing parents and buses onto Bruce Avenue, even though at different sections would cause traffic issues.
More discussion ensued over athletic facilities in the plan. Board member Faye Leddon told Anderson that she had heard from some who questioned whether removing the gym – which some consider historic – was a good plan. Anderson responded that she would like to hear from anyone with concerns about the gym and the need for it to be replaced.
Board Chairman Mark Davis requested that the architects reconsider their design to include a full size football field for the school rather than a half-size practice field. They responded that due to much of the property on the east side being protected wetlands and in order to incorporate those ideas, a great deal of “building up” of the property would be needed, increasing cost. Close to 80 percent of the existing structures on the grounds are planned to be removed for the renovations. The board moved 4-0 to approve the plan for the buildings on the campus, and held off on the decision over athletic fields until more information and costs could be brought before them.
The next meeting of the WCSB is scheduled for Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. To see renderings, more information about meetings and minutes, go to www.walton.k12.fl.us/board/. More detailed information can be found by going to this address and clicking on the Pdf. file listed for board members.