CHIPLEY - It was a red letter day for the Washington County School District as officials, students, staff and the community help celebrate groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Kate M. Smith Elementary School in Chipley.
"This is a tremendous day," said Superintendent of Schools Joseph Taylor as he welcomed hundreds of KMS students and members of the community to the event.
Festivities included the performance of the "Star Spangled Banner" by Chipley High School's "Spirit of the Tiger Band, as well as performances by the KMS Chorus.
Senator Don Gaetz and Representative Marti Coley, both who helped facilitate funding for the new school, each took a moment to congratulate the students.
"You children are leading the way," said Sen. Gaetz in reference to the school's recent Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores. "Congratulations on your FCAT scores." Rep. Coley echoed Sen. Gaetz's sentiment, adding, "Look what you did where you were. You didn't have the best facility. I can't wait to see what you do when everything is new, bright, and shiny."
School board member Terry Ellis reminded those in attendance the school isn't just a positive step for local education; it will also give a boost to the local economy.
"This is economic development," said Ellis. "A huge construction project is about to begin. It will make a difference for students and teachers, but local businesses will also see the benefit."
The site for the new school is located between South Boulevard and Brickyard Road.
Construction is expected to cost about $33 million and will be funded over a three-year period. The state has agreed to contribute $9.2 million to the project, with the county funding $4.4 million dollars in capital outlay funds over the course of the three years.
A construction manager will be selected within coming weeks, and the project is slated for completion sometime in 2016.