Two Santa Rosa County schools among the nation's best

  • August 7, 2015
  • /   Reggie Dogan
  • /   education

Milton High School Principal Tim Short plans to do some bragging this week when teachers return to get ready for the 2015-2016 school year.

He has every right since Milton High School was one of only two schools in Santa Rosa County to earn national recognition as among the best in the U.S.

Milton High School and Santa Rosa Virtual Franchise both were awarded Bronze medals by the U.S. News & World Report in its 2015 Best High Schools report.

“This is a direct reflection of what our teachers do,” said Short. “I am proud of the results, and it’s something to celebrate with faculty members.”

The award recognized the two schools’ ranking in the top 30 percent of all high schools nationwide based on college readiness, reading and math proficiency, and student-teacher ratio.

At Milton High School based on 2013, 62 of students achieved proficiency in reading and 53 percent scored proficient in math, both above the state average.

Of the 1,700 students, 19 percent take Advanced Placement courses.

In Santa Rosa School District, 61 percent of students are reading on grade level, and 63 percent are proficient in math.

Milton was the only brick-and-mortar school in the district to earn national honors, and one of two in Northwest Florida. Niceville Senior High School was a Silver Medal award winner.

Santa Rosa Virtual Franchise began offering classes online six years ago, giving students the opportunity earn credits and graduate from home.

Since its inception, three classes of students have graduated without ever attending a tradiional classroom on a campus, said Tim Wyrosdick, superintendent of Santa Rosa schools.

“This is another opportunity to meet the needs of our students in a variety of ways,” Wyrosdick said. “Using schools like that is another opportunity for students to be successful.”

Milton High’s award was especially rewarding, given the demographics of the student body, Short said.

Among the poorer schools in the county, half of the 1,750 students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch meals, which means their families fall below the federal poverty line.

On the brink of failure a few years ago, Milton High’s school grade is perennial A-B school. Its graduation rate has risen to nearly 83 percent, and 74 percent for minority students.

“When you increase graduation rates and lower dropout rates, you’re doing something great,” Wyrosdick said. “I’m very proud of the faculty and staff.”

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