Groundbreaking for New South Walton Elementary School

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. - While Walton County's south end continued growth is good for business, it can sometimes be challenging for such resources as transportation and education. Walton County School District leaders broke ground on a new elementary school Tuesday afternoon.
 
Mark Gardner, the Facilities Director for the District, said the projects have been one right after the other. The most recent will be the largest educational facility in all of Walton County. 
 
"When you build a school it's a 40 of 50 year investment," said Gardner. "So we're building for potential growth. Not necessarily for tomorrow."
 
Community Members gathered Tuesday for the groundbreaking of the new elementary school south. The school will hold more than 1,000 students. The hope is to relieve the already over-capacity Butler and Bay Elementary schools as well as Emerald Coast Middle where they currently house fifth graders.
 
"Perhaps this will release the stress and strain as far as population concern on the middle school as well because those students will matriculate into their elementary schools rather than be with the older students at the middle school setting," said Superintendent Russell Hughes.
 
Hughes said it's imperative the District stay on top of an expanding student population despite the cost.
 
"We're growing so fast, we're having to borrow money which is a good yet difficult process," said Hughes.
 
Gardner said a long term plan could mean changes for some current schools as well.
 
"Bay Elementary in our plan - that has to be approved by our current board and superintendent - would be converted to a Pre-K center," said Gardner.
 
The project will cost the district about $40 million. Funds for the school will come from bonds. The goal is to have it open and ready for students by Fall 2018.

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