DESTIN — After reaching its first financial goal, the Destin High School executive board held a donor appreciation event on Thursday morning.
In less than a week, the Okaloosa County School Board should announce whether it has accepted the new high school’s charter. But in the meantime, board members wanted to take some time to thank everyone who has donated money to making the school a reality.
“We are really honored and so blessed to have the community’s support behind us in the form of donations,” said Prebble Ramswell, president of the corporation’s executive board. “This is what makes dreams come true.”
“We could not do it without the support of the community,” board member Sarah Stone said. “We know we can do it.”
Donors, volunteers and board members gathered at the Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard for light refreshments and to consider the board’s next steps.
If the charter is approved, the board hopes to have the school doors open by August 2020 and must find a location quickly. Luckily, Stone said they are about a week away from being able to announce their top choice.
The school will receive some funding from the state after it opens, but until then the charter school board will continue to raise money.
“When we started this process two years ago, we really had no idea how fast it would happen,” Stone said. “In a matter of a few months we were able to raise $97,307.63.”
Through donations, fundraisers and a silent auction, the board exceeded its first goal of $85,000. That money will go toward various costs, such as consultant fees to write the charter and provide guidance through the school’s potential opening.
The board's second financial phase goal is substantially larger at $490,000. It will help pay for facility development, a faculty search, operational and startup expenses, and supplies and equipment.
“We’re going to need all the help we can get to get the word out,” Stone said.
The school plans only accept students in grades 9-10 at first, with a maximum of 200 students per grade. Ramswell said while Destin residents will get first priority, the school will be open to all students in Okaloosa County.
The board is optimistic that the charter will be approved and its plans for the new high school to move forward.
“With all the support we’ve received so far, it should be a no-brainer,” Ramswell said as she crossed her fingers.