NICEVILLE, Fla. (WKRG) — The Okaloosa County School District will be using grant money from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to create a new healthcare training facility. The school board approved the $1,291,000 grant at a meeting on Monday, Oct. 24.

OCSD is using this money from Triumph Gulf Coast to help fund a $3,664,923 healthcare academy serving Choctawhatchee High School, Fort Walton Beach High School, and Niceville High School. The healthcare academy in partnership with local hospitals will start certification in the 2022-23 school year.

The healthcare academy will take place at an older portion of the current Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. The grant funds will be used to help renovate the existing facilities to add classrooms and labs. When completed, OCSD says the academy will offer 432 industry-recognized Florida Department of Education-approved CAPE certificates to Sophomore-Senior students.

Triumph Gulf Coast is a non-profit responsible for setting the use of 75 percent of the oil spill funds acquired by the Florida attorney general after the 2010 environmental disaster.

The project is also being funded by the school district at $1,257,798 and Fort Walton Beach Medical Center along with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office picking up the remaining $1,116,125.

Before the renovated healthcare facility is finished, students are currently participating in these courses at the Okaloosa Technical College in Fort Walton Beach.

“We have such a shortage at the hospital you know, that’s one of the reasons they’re doing this because they see the shortage that they’re experiencing it right now,” said April Branscome with OCSD Career and Technical Education Department. “We even see bigger and better things from this partnership that we’re hoping to extend it across the state.” 

Branscome said the CTE is dedicated to finding needs with education gaps in the community that can get kids into the workforce earlier. This partnership between the hospital and school district is aimed to help the local community in the long run.

“We have such a shortage at the hospital you know, that’s one of the reasons they’re doing this because they see the shortage that they’re experiencing it right now,” said Branscome. “We even see bigger and better things from this partnership that we’re hoping to extend it across the state.”

OCSD said the nearly 6,400-square-foot building at the hospital will be ready for the Jan. 2023 semester.