Wakulla Residents Raise Education, Environmental Concerns

Sep 28, 2017

Beshears (left) and Montford at the Wakulla County Commission Chambers.
Credit Nick Evans

People in Wakulla County want to see education and environmental legislation when lawmakers get back to work next month.

Thursday night about 50 people gathered in the Wakulla County Commission chambers to touch base with their state lawmakers.  Monticello Republican Halsey Beshears represents the county in the House and Tallahassee Democrat Bill Montford is the county’s senator. 

The two biggest concerns the lawmakers heard are perennial issues all over the state: education and the environment. 

Wakulla County is a high performing school district—one of only 11 counties in the state earning an A district grade.  But 12th grade English teacher Missy Rudd wants the Legislature to scale back testing.

“We’ll spend over half of March April and May testing again” Rudd said, “we’ll spend 28 out of 54 days of school testing these kids.” 

“And so—that’s just not in the best interest of our students.”

Many attendees also pressed Montford and Beshears about the funding land buying program Florida Forever.  In spring sheds—like Wakulla—putting acreage into public hands can help protect water quality.  What’s more, environmentalists point out Amendment 1 provides a steady and reliable stream of funding for the program.   But this year lawmakers didn’t appropriate a dime for it. 

Sandy Tedder wants to see that change.

“I wanted to, and I know I’m not alone in urging you all, to fund the Florida Forever program,” Tedder told the lawmakers.  “I know it’s a big thing for Florida for the whole state for a lot of people.  Amendment 1 was voted overwhelmingly when it came up in 2014”

And while education and the environment are major issues statewide Montford and Beshears heard about more parochial concerns, too. 

County Commissioner Mike Stewart wants money to build a new library.

“We’ve had about a 37 percent increase in programs with over 8,000 kids participating,” he says.  “That’s a 56 percent increase in attendance just in the last year and we’re busting at the seams and we need a new library.” 

“People don’t just go to the library to read books anymore.”

Lawmakers will be back in Tallahassee early next month to begin committee hearings for next year’s legislative session.