On June 2, 2022, with the signing of Florida’s state budget, Governor Ron DeSantis provided approval for two appropriations that were applied for by the Walton County School District (WCSD). The applications, which totaled $1 million, will allow WCSD to continue to strengthen college and career pathways for students.
Freeport High School in Freeport, Florida will be the recipient of a $500,000 appropriations for an Aquaculture Marine Academy. The Academy will equip Freeport High School with a new Aquaculture Career Pathway. Aquaculture is the rearing of aquatic animals or the cultivation of aquatic plants for food. Students will begin an exciting program to help revitalize oyster beds and promote clean water. The program will provide hands-on, rigorous career and technical education (CTE) where students earn industry certifications and prepare for the growing workforce.
The appropriations will provide for aquaculture equipment, such as tanks, greenhouse materials, pools, aerators, aquatic vegetation, species for tanks, lights, pumps, computers, and lab equipment. Partners involved include the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Walton County Commissioners, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 
Paxton School in Paxton, Florida will be the recipient of a $500,000 appropriations for an Agritechnology Academy. The Academy will equip Paxton School with an enhanced Agritechnology Academy. Agritechnology is the use of technology in agriculture with the aim of improving yield, efficiency, and profitability. Students will continue their study of agriculture and begin to combine technology, such as drones and computers, to develop innovative job skills. This Agritechnology Pathway will provide hands-on, rigorous career and technical education (CTE) where students earn industry certifications and prepare for the growing, everchanging workforce.
The appropriations will provide for agritechnology equipment, such as drones, farm machinery, plants, animals, and lab equipment. Numerous partners will be involved such as the city of Paxton, Farm
Bureau, and Embry Riddle.
Superintendent A. Russell Hughes was elated upon hearing about the approved funding for these innovative programs. “I am beyond excited for our students, especially as this will build real world skills connected to the future of our community. I want to personally thank our state leaders who helped make these two projects a reality, including Representative Brad Drake, Senator George Gainer, and Representative Jay Trumball and of course, I want to thank Governor Ron DeSantis.” Superintendent Hughes also thanked WCSD staff whom he described as EPIC, which is the
Superintendent’s district-wide theme. “Staff embodied the “C” of EPIC (collaboration). I appreciate the teachers, administrators, and district staff who continue to make our vision a reality. I am so proud of the innovative opportunities that we are able to provide to students, schools, and communities.”
This is the second consecutive year the WCSD has received state appropriation funds. Last year, the district received funds for South Walton High School to continue renovations of the Magnet Innovation Center at St. Joe Watersound. The WCSD is a high performing school district and has earned a district rating of “A” for the past three years, which is a first since the Florida grading system began.
For more information on the Walton County School District, please visit https://www.walton.k12.fl.us/.