POINT WASHINGTON — When the school year starts in August 2018, many children in South Walton County will have a new elementary school.
Several dignitaries past and present from Walton and Bay counties attended a groundbreaking ceremony last week for the new elementary school, which has been in the works for more than two years.
“We have seen extraordinary growth in Walton County in recent years, and especially in South Walton,” Superintendent Russell Hughes said. “In several schools we are at and over capacity, and we want to relieve pressure on them.”
Hughes said the grades the new school will hold has not been finalized, but he is looking at grades K-5. The school’s name has not been determined either; the naming will be a collaborative effort among Hughes, the School Board and community stakeholders, he said.
“It will be a name that is good for the community,” he said.
The school will be built on M.C. Davis Boulevard, on 33.5 acres east of U. S. Highway 331 and just east of Point Washington. While Davis did not donate the property, Hughes said he did allow the school district to purchase the land at a very reasonable cost before his death.
The new elementary school will be part of an overall complex that eventually will include a community sports park to the north and a mixed-use housing and commercial development to the west. The project footprint will be 150,000 square feet and cost $200 per square foot to build.
The school will have 59 classrooms that can accommodate 1,012 students.
The construction comes as a relief to Bay Elementary Principal Meredith Spence, who has dealt with the area’s growth. Bay Elementary has 450 new students this year.
“The biggest growth has been in first grade,” she said.
Grace Scruggs attended the groundbreaking with her three daughters.
“I am very excited,” said Scruggs, who added that her daughters, who are in kindergarten and second grade, are in crowded conditions.
“This school is being built for growth,” said Mark Gardner, the school district’s facility director. ”(Bay Elementary) has 15 portable classrooms this year. We are trying to keep up. This will be the biggest new school built in Walton County.”