Student enrollment increases in Walton County

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 8:26 PM CDT
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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The school year is in full swing, and classrooms in Walton County are packed. As the population in the county grows, schools are racing to keep up.

“When I started six years ago, we had about 650 students,” Kristin Lewis, principal of Freeport Elementary School, said. “Now we have 1,125 students. So we’re close to doubling what we had at that time.”

With more students, schools need more staff. Walton County Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hawthorne says the district has been able to mostly meet the demand.

“We know nationwide there’s a shortage and some districts are needing hundreds of teachers. We’re only needing five,” Dr. Hawthorne said.

But it’s not just luck keeping the district fully staffed.

“We worked very hard over the summer to do several of recruitment type activities,” Dr. Hawthorne said. “We currently rank number three in the state out of 67 counties academically, so we’re very proud of the work we do here and we do believe it helps us attract employees.”

While the Walton County School District may need just a few more teachers, officials said there is another position they are needing to fill.

“We definitely need bus drivers in our county,” Lewis said. “The more that we’re growing, the more transportation needs that need to be fulfilled too.”

The bus driver position comes with a few perks, with a starting pay of $18.90 and a $1,000 sign-on bonus.

With more kids enrolling in schools each year, meeting demand isn’t easy. But the Walton County School District proves it can be done.

If you would like to apply for a position at the Walton County School District, click here.