WCSB addresses importance of FPTC and embraces program expansion

The Washington County School Board met in a special workshop on Thursday, January 3, to discuss the current needs of the Florida Panhandle Technical College as well as the needs of the business community for skilled tradespeople.

Thursday’s meeting stemmed from damages caused by Hurricane Michael, together with the need for facility updates.

FPTC director Martha Compton was given the go ahead by Superintendent Joe Taylor and school board members to proceed with development of additional programs for which there are existing facilities and the availability of instructors.

“Parts of the college campus infrastructure are over 50 years old,” stated Taylor, “and it’s time that we looked at a comprehensive plan on how to best move forward with the facility.”

An expanded health care program was discussed as an obvious direction to take, along with expansion of several building industry programs, including HVAC (air conditioning), welding, plumbing, electrical and others, some of which already exist on the campus.

“I have spoken to many in Bay County who indicate we are looking at a 10-15 year build-out for repairing the infrastructure of that area,” said board member Vann Brock. “I daresay that the industry can make use of any skilled and certified building tradespeople that we can furnish.”

The next step is advertising for an architectural firm that the school board can consult with and develop a long-term master plan.

“We need to make the college irresistible to our high school students and the community,” pointed out board member Will Taylor, in reference to the dual-enrollment system in place, allowing current high school students to attend certification classes at the college, giving them a jump on a career.

“I am excited by the enthusiasm with which the school board members greeted our broad proposal,” said Compton, “and I look forward to working with our college staff to enhance our offering to the community and the workforce.”