Okaloosa County Schools - A Quick Overview

In the State of Florida – school districts run concurrently with the counties they are in. Okaloosa County, for example, has only one public school district – the Okaloosa County School District. 

The Okaloosa County School District rates consistently as one of the best in the state. The Florida Department of Education gives performance reports to schools across the school each year – many of Niceville and Valparaiso Schools receive A ratings. “In order to receive an A grade – a school’s students must excel in achievement, learning gains, graduation, acceleration success and maintaining a focus on students who need the most support”. 

This year, two of the eight public schools in the Mid Bay area (within Niceville, Valparaiso, Eglin and Bluewater Bay) received B grades. The other schools received A grades. 

Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Valparaiso and Eglin Air Force Base have many educational options for children. Elementary school-age children in the area have four public elementary schools they may be districted for. Additionally, there are several charter schools and private schools parents may choose from in order to achieve excellent educational outcomes. 

Who's in Charge Around Here?

Okaloosa County School District Logo

In the state of Florida, each school district is coterminus (has the same boundaries) with the county they are in. No area has “Independent School Districts” like in Texas or other states. 

While they have the same borders – the school board and superintendent do not answer to another local government agency, like the city council or the county commission. They are completely independent. 

This means that the school board has a lot of influence over what happens in the classroom. In Okaloosa County, the five elected members of the school board work with an elected superintendent. The board decides policy matters, like what school textbooks to use and where to spend money. The Superintendent oversees personnel and other day-to-day operations. 

Elections to School Board and Superintendent

Okaloosa School Board

In Okaloosa County, school board members are elected without a party attached to their names, while the superintendent is elected with a party affiliation. School board members must live within their district, but every eligible resident of Okaloosa County votes for every seat on the school board. So, if you live in Niceville, you get to vote for the Niceville school board seat, but you also get to vote for the person who represents Crestview, Destin and Fort Walton Beach as well.

Currently, there are five seats on the school board. They are represented by

  • Lamar White: Northern Fort Walton Beach and Shalimar
  • Marti Gardner: Southern Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island and Destin
  • Linda Evanchyk: Western Crestview, Baker and Holt
  • Tim Bryant: Eastern Crestview and Laurel Hill
  • Diane Kelley: Niceville, Valparaiso, Bluewater Bay and Eglin Air Force Base. 
A group of people in a formal portrait smiliing
The Current Members of the Okaloosa County School Board. Back (L to R) Attorney Jeff McInnis, Member Tim Bryant, Member Lamar White, Superintendent Marcus Chambers Front (L to R) Marti Gardner, Diane Kelley, Linda Evanchyk 📸: Okaloosa School District Web Site

Okaloosa County Superintendent, Marcus Chambers

Marcus Chambers Currently serves as the Okaloosa Superintendent of Schools. Chambers grew up in Okaloosa County and started his career as a teacher here as well. He earned the First Year Teacher of the Year award for Okaloosa County School District in 1999 while at Ruckel Middle School. He served as principal of Longwood Elementary in Fort Walton Beach and then as Principal of Pryor Middle School. He served as principal of Niceville High School for a brief period before taking a position as Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in 2012.

In 2018, Governor Ron DeSantis, as one of his first official acts in office, named Chambers interim superintendent – after a child abuse scandal involving a special needs student resulted in the removal of the previous superintendent. 

Chambers won reelection against a former superintendent and Florida State House Speaker Ray Sansom after an ugly campaign season in 2020. In the campaign Chambers won the vote after two years in office with a 2-to-1 margin over Sansom. 

Personally, Chambers is married to Krissandra Chambers – an English and Leadership teacher at Niceville High School. They have two children who graduated from Niceville High School. Chambers is an avid New York Yankees Fan. 

Formal Portrait of a Man
Okaloosa County Schools Superintendent Marcus Chambers

Okaloosa County School Attendance Map

Trying to find out where your child is districted for? It can be a little bit of a hassle to find this map on the school district website! 

We got you! 

Type in your address into the bar at the top left of the map – and it will tell you which elementary, middle and high school your student is districted for! 

You’ll also notice that, in some cases, your student will have a choice of school based on where your home is located. 

If you click the ‘boundaries’ option in the top right corner you can toggle which type of school you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for which middle school your child will attend, click ‘boundaries’. When you do so, a list will pop up and you will be able to select ‘middle schools’ from the drop down menu! 

Elementary Schools and Consolidated Schools

Bluewater Elementary School

The Bluewater Elementary School, located on Range Road in the Bluewater Bay community to the east of Rocky Bayou. The school has received an ‘A’ Rating since 2001. For more information about BES Click the button below. 

Eglin Elementary School

Eglin Elementary School is located on Eglin Air Force Base and serves many of the children who live in base housing. 85% of students at the school live on base and have tested well enough to help the school retain its A rating. 

Eglin Elementary School Logo
Eglin Elementary School Logo
Lula Edge Elementary School

Edge Elementary Schools serves the students on the western side of Niceville. The school is located on State Route 85 just north of Boggy Bayou. The State of Florida’s Department of Education has rated Edge an ‘A’ school every year since 2001. You can learn more about Edge by clicking the button below. 

Edge Elementary School Logo
Edge Elementary School serves western Niceville
James Plew Elementary School

Plew Elementary serves the eastern half of the city of Niceville. The school, located just south of John Sims Parkway, has received an ‘A’ rating from the Florida Department of Education since 2013. You can learn more about the school here.

Plew Elementary School Logo
Plew Elementary School Serves the Eastern portion of Niceville Proper
The Lewis School

The Lewis School, located in Valparaiso, services both elementary and middle school students from the city of Valparaiso. Students who live on Eglin Air Force Base attend The Lewis School for middle school. 

For More information about the Lewis School – Check out our page on the school.

Lewis School
The Lewis School serves students K-8 in Valparaiso

Niceville Middle Schools

Walter C. Ruckel Middle School

Ruckel Middle School, the only middle school in Niceville, is co-located with Niceville High School on the same plot of land in the middle of the city. The department of education rated Ruckel Middle School an ‘A’ School every year since 2000. 

The Lewis School also serves area middle schoolers. 

Click below to learn more about Ruckel Middle School. 

Ruckel Middle School Logo
Ruckel Middle School serves students from all of Bluewater Bay and Niceville
The Lewis School

The Lewis School, located in Valparaiso, services both elementary and middle school students from the city of Valparaiso. Students who live on Eglin Air Force Base attend The Lewis School for middle school. 

For More information about the Lewis School – Check out our page on the school.

Lewis School
The Lewis School serves students K-8 in Valparaiso

Niceville and Valparaiso High Schools

Niceville High School

Niceville High School continues to be the crown jewel of the City of Niceville. The campus is located in the center of the city and is known for its high academic standards. The school has produced the only congressperson to attend an Okaloosa County School as well as several astronauts. Contrary to popular belief, John Denver did not attend the school. 

The High School, like every other public school in the Mid Bay News coverage area received an A rating from the department of education. 

To learn more about the school and what it has to offer students, click the button below. 

NHS Logo
Niceville High School serves all students grades 9-12 on Eglin Air Force Base, Valparaiso and Niceville

Other Public or Charter School Options in Niceville and Valparaiso

Edge, Plew, Bluewater, Lewis, Ruckel and Niceville constitute the standard schools within the public school system for students who live in the Mid Bay Coverage Area. But – there are other public school options for students available. Okaloosa County School District has three other options for students attendance – with varying requirements for admission.

Collegiate High School

Collegiate High School  is arguably the best high school in the Florida Panhandle for high-achieving students. 

The school allows students to simultaneously pursue a high school diploma and a A.A. degree at Northwest Florida State College. 

The United States Department of Education named Collegiate a Blue Ribbon School in 2006 and 2013. Admissions are selective and competitive. 

Students who choose to accept admission to the school are able to participate in athletics at other Okaloosa County Schools with athletic programs. 

Collegiate High School Logo
Collegiate High School is a public charter school run by Northwest Florida State College
Liza Jackson Preparatory School

The Liza Jackson Preperatory School, also known as the Liza Jackson school, bills itself as the premier charter school for academics in Okaloosa County. The school serves students from 1st to 8th grades. 

Liza Jackson recently purchased a new facility, located adjacent to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. 

Remember, the school requires an application for admission and is considered very selective. If you want your child to attend, you should begin the application process sooner than later. 

Liza Jackson School Logo
Liza Jackson is a selective charter school in Fort Walton Beach
Okaloosa STEMM Academy

The Okaloosa STEMM Academy is the number one middle school in the entire State of Florida. It focuses, as you might have guessed, on STEMM-related topics for students. 

Students can take high-school-level classes early for credit – a great way to get a leg up for middle schoolers who are already thinking about college. 

Students can qualify to enroll based on their FSA scores – or they can apply to enroll through a seperate process.

Okaloosa STEMM Academy Logo
Okaloosa STEMM Stingers Logo
Northwest Florida Ballet Academie

The Northwest Florida Ballet Académie is a highly competitive school in the Okaloosa County School District system which serves 3rd-8th graders. 

The Académie is a partnership between the school district and the Northwest Florida Ballet. 

Students must audition in order to be able to gain admission into the program. 

 

Northwest Florida Ballet Logo
The Ballet Académie is a partnership between the Okaloosa County School District and the Northwest Florida Ballet
Okaloosa Academy

Okaloosa Academy is a charter school in Fort Walton Beach. 

The School started in 1997. 

Schools for Special Needs

Emerald Coast Autism Center

The Emerald Coast Autism Center is a school for children with Autism. 

Silver Sands School

The Silver Sands School is a school for children with special needs who, “because of their mental functioning levels,” require services beyond those offered by other programs in Okaloosa County School District Schools. The school serves students from the ages of 3 to 22 in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. 

Religious Schools

St. Paul's Lutheran School

St. Paul’s Lutheran School is a K-5 school in Niceville located on the campus of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The school accepts children of all denominations. 

St. Pauls Lutheran Church and School Logo
St. Pauls Lutheran School is located on SR 20 in Niceville
St. Mary's Catholic School

St. Mary’s Catholic School is an educational institution in Fort Walton Beach that serves students from K-8 in the greater Okaloosa County area. 

St. Mary's Catholic School Fort Walton Beach Logo
St. Mary's Catholic School Logo Fort Walton Beach
Rocky Bayou Christian School

Rocky Bayou Christian School is a K-12 non-denominational Christian school founded in 1971. The School has campuses located throughout Okaloosa County, but has its main campus in Niceville on Partin Drive. 

Rocky Bayou Christian School Logo
Rocky Bayou Christian School is located on SR-285 in Niceville

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