School Board moves ahead with new elementary plans

School Board moves ahead with new Kate Smith Elementary School plans

Vernon Elementary School assistant principal Latina English, left, and principal Chris Beard provide a school update for the Washington County School Board on Monday, Feb. 11.

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM.

CHIPLEY — Washington County School Board members voted to take the next step in the process of building a new Kate M. Smith Elementary School, approving the new site’s spot survey, which is required by the state Department of Education.

“This is the next step,” Superintendent Joe Taylor said Monday night at the February board meeting. “This survey is required by the DOE and once you approve it, we can get our architects working on the plans.”

Taylor said that Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget funds the school construction, which is expected to cost more than $33 million, over a three-year period. Of that $33 million, $7.6 million is the cost of removing the old elementary school, Taylor said.

In January, the school board approved the 22-plus acre site between South Boulevard and Brickyard Road as the future home of Kate M. Smith Elementary School.

At the January meeting, District Maintenance Director Mike Park reviewed the process the Site Selection Committee had gone through in choosing the new location for the school. “This has been an ongoing process of about 20 years,” Park said, “and over the years, some of the names on the committee changed.”

In October, the Department of Education visited the elementary school to determine the need for a new facility. Five days later, DOE issued the finding that there was a “critical need” for a new elementary school in Chipley, Park said.

With that information, the selection committee met in late December and again on Jan. 3 to discuss the choice of school site, which came down to either stay at the current location, or move the school to the 22-plus acre tract of land the district owns that stretches between South Boulevard and Brickyard Road.

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