After months of preparation and meetings, the Destin High School Inc. executive board has submitted a 400-page charter application to the Okaloosa County School Board and will find out within 90 days if the school will become a reality.
“It should be a no brainer I hope, as long as all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed,” said Destin Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell, who is serving as the president of the corporation’s executive board. “We are very, very hopeful.”
On Jan. 29, it was standing room only as the executive board members and their consultants, Collaborative Educational Network, revealed the master plan to the Destin Chamber of Commerce and the public during a town hall meeting.
“We just need the public to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and where we are in the process,” Ramswell said.
Parents, teachers, business owners and students listened as the executive board explained what their next steps will be. Now that the 400 page charter application is submitted, the waiting game has begun.
If the school board approves the application, Ramswell said they will continue to raise funds and establish curriculums. If everything goes to plan, students will be able to attend the new high school in the 2020-2021 school year.
“As long as we can get the land and build the school, the doors will open in August 2020,” she said.
A site for the high school has not been determined yet. Ramswell said a financial consultant that specializes in building schools will decide what property will be the most “feasible, viable and affordable option” and will negotiate the sale.
If the school does open in August 2020, it will receive some funding from the state in July 2020. But until then, the charter school board is working non-stop to raise funds. The corporation is working in two financial phases.
Phase I includes obtaining $85,000 in donations to cover various fees, such as consultant fees for writing the charter and providing guidance through the school’s potential opening.
The goal for Phase II is to receive $500,000 in donations to pay for facility development, plans, a faculty search and operational and startup expenses.
So far, the corporation has raised about $50,000 of the initial $85,000 goal.
“I believe people were waiting to hear from experts rather than local folks to kinda make it more real and ask them the tougher questions,” Ramswell said. “Now that we have the application complete and submitted and professionals on board, we expect to start seeing more funds come on board.”
Various fundraising events will take place throughout the year, with the first event, a silent auction, taking place from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7 at Dr. Bawa and Associates, 4476 Legendary Drive.
It’s been a long time coming and Ramswell said it’s an unbelievable feeling to start seeing the high school finally coming together.
“We’ve wanted this for more than 10 to 20 years, so to be able to be a part of the group to be able to help realize a part of the dream is just an incredible feeling,” she said. “This is just going to be such a terrific thing for Destin and certainly the whole community.”