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Niceville area schools named to florida DOE schools of excellence list.

Niceville-Area Schools Named Florida Schools of Excellence. What Does That Mean for Students?

Seven out of ten Schools of Excellence in Okaloosa County are nestled in the Niceville/Valparaiso area. But what does that label mean for your child's classroom?

Seven of the twelve schools to earn the Florida Department of Education’s ‘Schools of Excellence’ designator for the 2022-2023 school year are in the Niceville area. Two schools, Liza Jackson Preparatory and Collegiate High School, are charter schools. 

Okaloosa County has 38 schools district-wide. For context, other school districts in the area received the following numbers of Schools of Excellence designators:

Okaloosa 12/38 31.6% of Schools

Bay 5/51 9.8%

Walton 5/23 21.7%

Santa Rosa 6/41 14.6%

Escambia 7/69 10.1%

The St. John’s County School District, located in the eastern portion of the state is considered one of the best school districts in the state. That district had 19 of it’s 54 schools (35.2%) of its schools named a School of Excellence. 

In a press release, Superintendent Marcus Chambers said, “This prestigious recognition is awarded to schools that have consistently ranked in the 80th percentile or higher for at least two of the last three school years based on their school grade calculation. I want to congratulate the students, teachers, staff, and administrators who have all contributed to this remarkable accomplishment!”

Elementary Schools Receiving School of Excellence Designator

Edge Elementary

Eglin Elementary

Plew Elementary

Bluewater Elementary

Middle Schools Receiving School of Excellence Designator

Ruckel Middle School

High Schools Receiving School of Excellence Designator

Niceville High School

Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College

That’s Awesome! What Does it Mean For My Child’s Classroom?

To be named a School of Excellence means that the school has had high-performing years in the recent past. 

The State of Florida, by law, rewards that performance by relaxing some of the requirements for those schools in question. That includes the following measures:

Reading Instruction

State law allows schools with the ‘school of excellence’ designator an exemption from any law they would pass that expressly requires a minimum period of daily or weekly reading instruction. 

Principal Autonomy

This designation also allows some special privileges for principals precisely, thanks to a law passed in 2017, including:

  • Refusal of personnel – The principal of a school that has a ‘School of Excelllence’ designation can block placement or transfer of instructional personnel by the school district superintendent. 
  • Financial Resources – The principal can “deploy financial resources” to preferred programs at their discretion to “help improve student achievement as defined in state law so long as they meet the performance goals outlined by their submitted proposal that complies with this state law.
  • They must also file a report with the superintendent and school board that outlines the budget for the school’s operation and identifies how funds given by law in Florida State Statute 1011.69 are used. 


Teachers are given automatic credit, worth 20 inservice points, toward the renewal of their professional certificate. They can receive up to 60 points toward their renewal in a five-year cycle. That sixty credits can count for up to half of a teachers cyclical continuing education. 

Start Times

Schools that earn the School of Excellence designation do not have to comply with school district policies about times for starting or finishing the school day. 

Class Sizes

Finally, schools that earn this designator can calculate compliance with the maximum class size (state) constitutional amendment based on the average number of students at the school level. 

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