School Board hears Let’s Talk update, discusses property purchase [PREMIUM]

Story by ADRIENNE WALLINE CAMPBELL 

The Walton County School Board held its regular meeting at the South Walton High School on June 21, 2022. 

The consent agenda contained The Freeport Middle School Cheer Team to travel to Tallahassee, Florida on July 15-17, 2022, to attend NCA Cheer Camp at Florida State University. 

The board approved a new position of Itinerant school support or full-time substitute funded by the ESSER Funds (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund). There will be one position at each school with the exception of the Emerald Coast Technical College. The hours are 7.5 hours per day, 5 days per week for 9 months (180 days). Salary to be based on the Board adopted non-instructional salary schedule. ESSER funds will continue to be available until 2024. 

Bus drivers are still needed and are actively sought for the next school year. 

Fee Adjustment for EMI Architects, LLC architecture and engineering services for the new Freeport Middle School was approved. The basic services fees for the original project were figured based upon a $30,000,000 construction cost (including site work) for a smaller size project (802 student stations) vs. an anticipated construction cost of $67,102,518 (953 student stations) for the current design as recently estimated by Culpepper Construction Company. The total additional basic services fees to complete the project through the construction administration phase will therefore be $3,571,923 minus $580,037.50 (total fees paid to date) equals a net add of $2,991885.50. 

The school board is in talks concerning the Mittler property (lot 37) which is 10 acres south of Chat Holley Road below the 20 acres they are currently negotiating. The asking price is $325,000 and still needs a wetlands assessment. They anticipate there will be between 4 to 6 acres of uplands. Also needed is a property appraisal, wetland delineation, boundary survey and the title search. 

Dr. Jennifer Hawthorne gave an update on the Let’s Talk program. Usage has increased. The number to call or message is (850) 204-9667. The subscription ends July 30 and will need to be renewed. 

Superintendent Russell Hughes, Tammy Smith, Vice-Chairperson, and board member Jeri Michie attended FSBA/FADSS (Florida School Boards Association/ Florida Association of District School Superintendents) Annual Summer Conference for three days of leadership development, networking, and training June 8-10, 2022, at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida. 

Board member Jeri Michie requested scheduling workshops concerning becoming more tobacco free schools, and another concerning the Synovia software for the buses. She also requested workshops concerning making the schools safer from the inside. That is strengthening mental health for our students.