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Moving to South Walton, tell me about the schools

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by AURN, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. Autigr89

    Autigr89 Beach Comber

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    Hey ECMS is a great school. My son went there, and loved it. He went to ECMS in the 8th grade after moving from KY to FL. He adopted very well, and was received by all the faculty at the school. Then he attended Seacoast for 9th grade. This high school managed by Seaside charter is a very good school with talented students! Seacoast is very focused, and in most cased your student will receive a 2 yr degree once complete. The problems came when I let my son go to SWHS in January of last year. SWHS just like so many has problems write me and I will share some issues.
     
  2. MarkCY

    MarkCY Beach Crab

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    We are also looking to move to sowal. We have a son going into 9th grade and would very much like feedback on Swhs. It would be good to hear from other parents that have a child at Swhs or recently attended.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2016
  3. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    If you can afford the Private or Charter route, take it.

    If not, find an honest and open parent that is in tune with the school you are looking at and seek info.

    Our schools are not "bad", but they do have challenges.

    The beach and vacation culture here leads to a high level of drug use, much never discussed outside of school walls and its admin.

    The SW H.S. has also had significant Bullying issues that most never make it to public consumption.

    If the school you're looking at has a SRO (sheriff's officer), assigned, ask to speak with them, one on one, outside of prying ears and eyes of school staff.
     
  4. MarkCY

    MarkCY Beach Crab

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    Thanks For the feedback John. It's amazing how difficult it can be to get feedback on something so important as your child's potential new school. Honestly, we love the area and what it has to offer us but the school options may have us postpone our move until our son is done with high school.
     
  5. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    You are welcome. Walton County is a very interesting place.

    I hope you'll continue to browse this site and read some of the interesting topics under the local government forum.

    This area is an enigma at times and recently, more and more new residents are taking interest in the many challenges we as residents face.

    We do have wonderful beaches, no doubt there. We spend millions to tell be what to me is obvious.

    Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for bringing a poorly managed, most times laughable, County government into the modern area where Accountability takes precedence over Good Ole Boy (and Girl) political agendas.

    I hope your quest for School info ends well and that you'll share your story on this post.

    Our school superintendent is an elected official, so you can also feel free to reach out to her for info, as she is a wealth of it...(Scarcasm Intended).
     
  6. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    There are other options, and as I have had 3 graduate from schools in the area, the Charter High Schools through Northwest State College is an awesome opportunity for students. Politics aside I would suggest going to the schools and sit down with some of the teachers and administrator and discuss your expectations. As for my personal opinion, since the state has beenso adamant about standardized testing it is one of the reasons for the difficulties our educators face in educating their students. Cookie cutter mentality brings cookie cutter results.
     
  7. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    We're lucky to have many school options in Walton County. Our public schools are as good as any, safe, and I mostly hear good things, though they do have administrative issues and treat teachers like temporary employees so I hear with low pay and annual contracts. We loved montessori in South Walton. We also LOVE Seaside - and were lucky enough to get in - though I do think all the schools are just as good. It largely depends on your own philosophy and involvement as to where you may choose to place your children.

    Whenever I toured the elementary schools when my child was younger, I would have a sinking feeling in my gut when they would tell me that only a few hours of PE or art or music per week were part of the curriculum due to "state law" requiring a certain number of hours for core curriculum and testing prep. Depressing but normal, I suppose. Wherever you live, it's up to YOU to educate your own kids in the areas you feel are important - outside of the classroom. This is what I've come to realize. My child would have done well in ANY of the options we have here. We chose private until middle school when we went to Seaside. And thrilled to remain in Seaside through high school even though the last two years involve transporting to Niceville. Nothings perfect. Thankful for choices.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
  8. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    While Bob W and I seldom agree, he is dead on with his first hand assessment.

    I give credit where its due.

    Thanks Bob.
     
  9. MarkCY

    MarkCY Beach Crab

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    Thanks to all on your feedback. We did reach out to key individuals at Swhs and it took a lot of follow up calls to get individuals to call us back to discuss our son and the school. Quite a different experience than the prompt calls from local school options back home. It left us wondering the quality of the staff, etc... Also when we talked to a friend who does not have children locally, she did not have a lot of good things to say about Swhs and recommended Niceville. However, we don't think driving him an hour each way is doable. Our son spent two full days shadowing at 2 high schools close to our current home. I think that we may have to see if Swhs would allow a similar routine of shadowing or spending some time at the school to get a sense of the environment.
     
  10. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    The positive about SWHS is a campus of Northwest Florida State College is within walking distants if dual enrollment is an option. My son did graduate from SWHS and I had nothing but a positive experience. That being said I also feel as though they assisted him in preparing for the future.
     
  11. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    Niceville HS is decidedly on the military part of the Panhandle where 'What do you do for a living?' can be a surprisingly loaded question. (I've know people who worked on base whose PhD dissertations were classified.) But if you're okay with a larger school experience, it offers some things you don't find elsewhere in the Panhandle, and the students who waiver into it aren't just there for the sports programs.
     
  12. Camp Creek Kid

    Camp Creek Kid Christini Zambini

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    Unfortunately, due to the large increase in personnel at Eglin, Niceville High School is no longer offering new waivers for students who are not zoned for Niceville High School. Do not make your decision to move to South Walton based on the possibility of obtaining a waiver for Niceville. It's not going to happen. I know several families who have had to move to Niceville from South Walton just so they would be within Niceville High School zoning. To be honest, there are many benefits of living in South Walton, but there are many struggles as well. High school has been a struggle for our family. My children are bright, studious, and good kids. We have done our best to provide them with excellent education opportunities, but we've had to go the private and charter school route, and those options are limited here as well (and not perfect either).

    You have to decide if the benefits of living in South Walton outweigh the challenges. In our experience, not just the education options are limited, but also extracurricular activities as well. One example is that South Walton High School has limited athletic teams available and many of the smaller sports (wrestling, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey, swimming) also are not available, or have limited availability, within the community. There are many other things that the high school and community lack that larger schools and communities expect to be readily available. College options are also limited. There are plentiful good paying summer jobs, but not a lot of opportunity for education and good paying "real" jobs for young adults--something that is important to think about if you'd like your college-age kids to have the option to live nearby. I don't mean to be negative, but as I've said, this has been, and continues to be, a real struggle for a family.
     
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  13. Teresa

    Teresa SoWal Guide Staff Member

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    All good points, Camp Creek Kid! I suppose our schools are average and none perfect. I've always felt it was a trade off to live here in a safe place to raise your family. Our kids are quite sheltered and just about have to move away to experience life outside the little beach town for real life experience and higher education.

    I do wish Walton County Schools had succeeded in establishing a hired Superintendent, a real professional to lead the way, instead of an elected/political position. But that just isn't going to happen any time soon. We will not be seeing any real advancement in Walton County education programs, I'm afraid.
     
  14. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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    In my opinion most of the issues our schools are dealing with are a result of the policies of the legistature and Governor. We have standardized test that don't work and teachers are accountable to teach the test at the expense of those students who are higher achievers. Then a teachers pay is based on the results of of those tests. Teacher tenure is taken away allowing districts to reduce their experience level by not renewing contracts and at the same time possibly reducing payroll by having a younger less experienced teacher that may not succeed because they don't have the opportunity to grow into their positions over time. The cost of education is being placed more and more at the local level but decisions on how we educate our children are stil being decided at the state level. Most of the issues we are currently facing is promises on fixing education and failures by the very changes that were suppose to fix the issues. I agree we have issues within our district but many of them could be alleviated buy weakening the duties of the Superintendent and strengthening that of the elected board. Obviously these views are mine and don't represent any group.
     
  15. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    @Bob Wells - didn't President Obama recently do away wit a lot of standard testing? When will that affect us at the local level?
     
  16. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    Unfortunately, I knew you said this but want you to discover it for yourselves.

    You are right to have some quality questions.

    I know several that have opted for the Niceville route, but as you've read that no longer exists.

    The fact that it did poses more questions as to why?

    Again, Bob W brings up good points about the NW FL Campus near-by...

    Hope you get the answers you are looking for and during the process learn a bit about our enigmà called Walton.
     
  17. Bob Wells

    Bob Wells Beach Fanatic

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  18. Danny Glidewell

    Danny Glidewell Beach Fanatic

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    Bob Wells is right on the money, many of the problems in education are because the state and federal governments have taken control away from the local districts. Our district has some obvious strengths, one being facilities. I go into schools all over south Alabama and north Florida and I can say no one has better facilities than Walton County except the city of Enterprise school system in Alabama. We also have many wonderful teachers and programs. How we treat those teachers is a serious weakness and hopefully the next election will bring positive change to this problem.
    I view our smaller schools as an overall strength. We may not offer all the sports programs that big schools can offer, but each child tends to be known and mentored better in a small school setting. If my child wished to play lacrosse I could see the problem but other than that, I will take a small school any day.
     
  19. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    I assumed it would have to go through the state first because of funding issues, otherwise local districts would drop most of them asap.
     
  20. John G

    John G Beach Fanatic

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    Well it also looks as if there are now three Good Ole Folks running for Superintendent...

    T. Porter Hutchison (daughter of Good Ole' Gordon Porter)

    Jennifer Nick (of the Nick Restaurant family and related to many Good Ole' Folks)

    And my Favorite, our County Attorneys (Marc Davis), brother...

    Slim Pickens here.

    At least the Queen Carlene will be gone.
     

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