WASHINGTON COUNTY — Kate M. Smith Elementary School will kick off the 2016-2017 school year Aug. 10 in a brand new campus and with the best school grade in the county.

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Kate M. Smith Elementary School will kick off the 2016-2017 school year Aug. 10 in a brand new campus and with the best school grade in the county.

The Florida Department of Education released preliminary grades for public schools this month. Schools across the state showed promising strides were made with 58 percent of Florida schools graded as a D or F school in 2015 had improved in 2016.

Washington County elementary schools both earned better grades, with Kate M. Smith (KMS) Elementary rising up to an A school from a B school and Vernon Elementary moving up from a C school in 2015 to a B school in 2016.

“Being an A school and having this brand new facility is overwhelming,” said KMS Elementary Principal Lesa Burdeshaw. “We’re very blessed to have all we do.”

Vernon High School maintained its holding as a C school. Vernon Middle School, Chipley High School and Roulhac Middle School each slid from a B school in 2015 to C schools this year.

Another bright spot for elementary student performance the in district this year is third-graders climbing the ranks in the English Language Arts category on the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) test.

Third-graders rose from 57 percent of students performing at a Level 3 or above on the FSA in 2015 to 62 percent in 2016. Only 10 districts in the state had higher percentages. The state average was at 54 percent this year, placing Washington third-graders well above average.

Burdeshaw said KMS will work hard to keep its A rating.

“We plan on delivering the same high quality instruction at Kate M. Smith Elementary that we always have,” said Burdeshaw.