Church revealed as one of top Destin High locations

staff reports
Booths are set up at the annual Fall Flair at Destin United Methodist Church. [FILE PHOTO/DAILY NEWS]

DESTIN — Although the Destin High School Executive Board has been tight-lipped about prospective locations for a new Destin High School, word of one potential destination leaked out Thursday afternoon.

The current home of Destin United Methodist Church is one of two locations being considered for the school. A spokeswoman for the church declined twice to comment. The pastor could not be reached.

A DUMC parishioner had told the Daily News that the matter was being brought up to the congregation Sunday.

"There is no comment to make at this time," Jaenene Samples said in response to emailed questions.

But Prebble Ramswell, president of the Destin High School Inc. Executive Board, shared a couple of "prepared" sentences about the possible location for the new charter school.

“Destin United Methodist Church is one of the top two locations the executive board is considering at this time and we are in the due diligence stage,” she said.  “Once we have the final report in hand we anticipate making an announcement.

"The strategic goal is to open Destin High School in August of 2020 and we will be kicking off our logo, mascot and school colors contest next week."

Ramswell said it is possible that if the board buys the church building it will re-purpose the existing building for use as the school.

“Everything is under negotiation," she said.

She said any decisions regarding what the Methodist Church might do about relocating following a sale of its property would be made by the church and any announcement of plans provided by the church.

“Destin United Methodist is obviously handling its own stuff,” she said.

Ramswell declined to discuss how much money the Destin High School Inc. Executive Board would be required to come up with to buy the Methodist Church property.

“No numbers have been finalized. We haven’t seen an appraisal yet,” she said.  

She also  declined to identify the second location.

“We don’t want someone swooping in grabbing it out from under us,” Ramswell said. “We’re being as tight lipped as we can be to make sure we get the absolute best price for the citizens of Destin.”

The church, located at 200 Beach Drive in Destin, occupies a 17,400-square-foot building, of which 14,370 is climate controlled, according to the Okaloosa County Property Appraiser's website.

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis said he talked to Ramswell last week and she told him the board she heads had two or three locations under consideration.

"They were keeping it pretty tight to their chest," he said.

Ramswell told the Okaloosa County School Board in late April that her board expected to announce a location for the charter facility in early May of this year and sign a lease soon after.

The church has a gym and is located about three blocks from Destin Elementary School.

Heidi LoCicero, a founding board member for Destin High School, told the Daily News she expected the due diligence Ramswell referred to to take about a week.