The Seaside School, Inc., in partnership with Northwest Florida State College, announces a significant milestone in its mission to transform educational opportunities in Walton County. The partnership between The Seaside School, Inc., a public charter school, and Northwest Florida State College has garnered the approval of $9 million in state funding, facilitating the expansion of Seacoast Collegiate High School and the creation of a Dual Enrollment & Workforce Development Center. This transformational project will address the demand for higher education and workforce development opportunities within Walton county, bringing dual enrollment, college coursework, and essential workforce skills closer to home for Walton County students.
The approval of $9 million in state funding was made possible by the unwavering support and advocacy of the Florida Legislature, Governor Ron DeSantis and key legislators including Senators Doug Broxson and Jay Trumbull as well as Representatives Tom Leek and Shane Abbott along with House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. Acknowledging the importance of this initiative, Senator Doug Broxson stated, "Investing in quality education is vital for the growth and prosperity of our communities. The Seacoast Collegiate High School and Northwest Florida State College expansion project will provide invaluable opportunities for the students of Walton County, empowering them to excel academically and pursue rewarding careers. I am proud to support this initiative and its positive impact on the future of our state."
On the heels of receiving the state funding, the two institutions held a momentous groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, October 2, 2023 at the Northwest Florida State College South Walton Center, marking the commencement of the Seacoast Collegiate High School expansion and the construction of a Dual Enrollment & Workforce Development Center. The event was graced by distinguished speakers, including Patrick McCarthy, President of The Seaside School Foundation; Dr. Tom Miller, Executive Director of The Seaside School, Inc.; District 5 State Representative Shane Abbott; Dr. Devin Stephenson, President of Northwest Florida State College; Lori Kelley, Chair of Northwest Florida State College Board of Trustees; and Deputy Superintendent of Walton County School District, Dr. Jennifer Hawthorne.
The groundbreaking event was a testament to the collaborative effort between Seacoast Collegiate High School and Northwest Florida State College, bringing higher education, dual enrollment, and essential workforce development to the residents of Walton County. This groundbreaking collaboration will address the need for collegiate educational opportunities and an educated workforce in this rapidly growing county, creating a dual enrollment center and a fully functioning satellite campus of Northwest Florida State College. Students will have the opportunity to dually enroll in high school and college, earning college credits at no cost to the student without leaving Walton County, including full A.A. and A.S. degree programs. By increasing the number of college-educated graduates in the local workforce, the project aims to address the county's labor shortage, drive economic growth, and strengthen the local community.
Dr. Tom Miller, Executive Director of The Seaside School, Inc., expressed his gratitude, saying, "We are thrilled and deeply grateful for the approval of $9 million in state funding for the Seacoast Collegiate High School and Northwest Florida State College expansion project. This significant investment will allow us to create a cutting-edge educational facility that meets the growing demand for higher education options in Walton County. Through this expansion, we will empower students to achieve their full potential and become leaders in their chosen fields."
Dr. Devin Stephenson, President of Northwest Florida State College, emphasized the transformative impact of the project: "Our mission is to train today’s students for tomorrow’s successes. This funding provides a generational opportunity for Northwest Florida State College and Seacoast Collegiate High School to cultivate significant economic, community, and workforce advancements in the region. I am confident that our enhanced partnership will be a model for successful alliances between educational institutions and will provide a significant educational opportunity to all students in our communities."
In a remarkable show of support, baseball Hall of Famer Tom Glavine and his wife, Chris, contributed $1 million in capital campaign funds towards this ambitious project at the groundbreaking. Their generosity, coupled with the dedication of the Florida Legislature, key legislators, and educational leaders, underscores the commitment to the future of Walton County's students.
“These significant milestones mark a bright future for Walton County and the students of The Seaside School, Inc. and Northwest Florida State College,” stated Patrick McCarthy, President of the Seaside School Foundation. “With the unwavering support of Florida's leadership, educational partners, and generous contributors like Tom and Chris Glavine, the vision of a world-class educational facility and expanded workforce development opportunities is becoming a reality in Walton County.”
Construction of the Seacoast Collegiate High School and Northwest Florida State College Dual Enrollment and Workforce Development Center has commenced and the two institutions expect to welcome students to the new facilities in Fall 2025.