New Pre-K sites proposed for Washington County

Plans to construct two new Pre-Kindergarten sites are in early stages for the Washington County School District.

Marianna-based Donofro Architects presented school board members with preliminary site plans on Monday when the board met in a called workshop to discuss the new construction, which is slated for campuses in both Chipley and Vernon.

The proposed Vernon site is next to the existing Vernon Elementary School, located at 3665 Roche Avenue. If the proposal is approved, the Pre-K center would take up the majority of the existing VES parking; however, the plans call for the clearing of the wooded area adjacent to the lot so that a new parking area can be constructed. 

The proposed Chipley site is located on Sinclair Street, in the parking lot across from the former Kate M. Smith Elementary School. The former campus now houses the district’s board room and existing Pre-K program, which is expected to grow beyond capacity in the coming year.

School Superintendent Joe Taylor says since the projects are still in preliminary stages – and with so many changes still taking place in the demand for construction supplies – it is too early to have an exact cost estimate; however, the projects will be paid for in part by $6 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

The goal is to have a cost estimate in about a month

Washington County VPK Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSHA) Linda Mincey says more room is certainly needed.

“We have four classrooms [in Chipley] that are full right now,” Mincey told board members in the workshop. 

“We have the possibility of a fifth classroom for next year, and if we have a fifth classroom for next year, we will not have anywhere to eat because we use the extra classroom right now as a classroom.”

Superintendent Taylor says the new centers will help the district prepare for an anticipated influx of preschoolers.

“We’re getting ready for the future,” he said.