In an effort to support the future of Destin, a Destin developer and investor has donated $35,000 to the Destin High School Inc. board of directors, enabling them to reach their first financial goal.

“This definitely brings us to our Phase I goal,” said City Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell, who is serving as the president of the corporation’s executive board. “Now we can start working on Phase II, so this is a God-send.”

On Feb. 7, The Log received a letter from Robert J. Guidry regarding the high school.

Among other developments in Florida and Louisiana, Guidry has owned half of the Emerald Grande and HarborWalk Village since 2009.

Having invested in the city of Destin for years, he said he believed his investment will be better served if he and others invest in the education of Destin’s youth.

“It’s very impressive to know that Destin’s officials are looking ahead for the betterment of its youth,” he wrote in a letter to The Log. “This check will now finish funding the $85,000 needed for Phase I.”

Guidry also believes that cutting down a student's commute to school will allow them more time to focus on their studies.

The Log presented the check to four members of the school’s board on Monday. After board member Sarah Stone read Guidry’s letter out loud, the group erupted in cheers and clapping.

“This is an answer to our prayers,” said board member Myra Williams. “We don’t just want another school, we want a special school.”

The school board has been working non-stop to raise funds since October of last year. The first financial phase will cover various fees, such as consultant fees for writing the school’s charter and providing guidance through the school’s potential opening.

Phase II has a much larger goal of $500,000, which will pay for facility development, plans, a faculty search and operational and startup expenses.

On Feb. 1, the board submitted a 400 page charter application to the Okaloosa County School Board. If approved, the new school could be open in August 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year.

Currently, students who live in Destin are zoned to attend high school in Niceville or Fort Walton. But with a growing population and economy and both high schools at or over capacity, Ramswell said the time is right for Destin to get its own high school.

“We clearly have 200 students per grade with Destin addresses at this point,” she said. “We really have to meet this need.”

“It’s just a little hard to believe that a prestigious place like Destin doesn’t have a high school,” Williams added.

The Okaloosa County School Board has 90 days from the date of the charter submission to approve or deny the request.