The Holmes District School Board approved Phase 1 plans for a proposed new K-12 campus in Ponce de Leon during a meeting Tuesday, May 28.

Project architect Clemons Rutherford and Associates presented preliminary schematics, which Superintendent Buddy Brown said is “not the finished product.” 

The expected new campus will have a gymnasium, cafeteria in the back, technology center, room for arts, and administrative center. Discussion was had on whether or not the facility will be two floors, which Brown said is not completely guaranteed. 

“Once we get together with our stakeholders, community members, faculty and administration over there, they’re certainly going to have the opportunity to give us input,” Brown said. 

Clemons Rutherford and Associates has reportedly built over 100 schools in the past 20 years.

“They have a lot of experience and understanding in what goes into specialized classrooms and general ed classrooms,” Brown said. 

The timeframe for next steps are for School District representatives to meet with the Florida Department of Education (DOE) Special Facilities Committee in late July or August, who will then rank proposals from throughout the state. Who receives funding is expected to be clear next April. Funding will then be available July next year, during which design should also be ready. 

January 2026 will then see the project bidded out and construction will be in a two-year timeframe. The goal is to get into the new school by August 2028.

“The whole point of this is to show facilities in Tallahassee that we have a professional group on board that knows how to guide us through this process,” Brown said.

In a previous interview with Holmes County Advertiser, Brown said the current campus is decades old and has portable buildings that are falling apart and not able to be used. 

“When they built Ponce de Leon, it’s on city sewer. It’s the most northern city limits of Ponce de Leon,” he said. “That school sits higher than the water tower. There’s days we have issues with water pressure.”

The ceiling also has cracks and leakage stemming from a 2004 hurricane. 

DOE representatives have been out to the campus to see the current site and will be out again as the appropriation process moves forward. 

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