The Bay County School Board's budget cutting measures will leave several schools facilities vacant this fall. Wednesday Board Members discussed some possible uses for those campuses. They are looking for ways to profit from the closures and they're reaching out to the community for help.
"The good news is we did have to close some schools, but now we're on the upside of trying to find some wonderful things we can do with that property," said Ginger Littleton, Bay Co. School Board Chair.
So far, 3 parties have expressed interest in buying the Margaret K. Lewis property, including an after-school program and a church. The only request from community members is that the property doesn't become a warehouse or sit vacant.
"Several parties are showing interest and yet we are still open and welcome all parties to the table if they are interested in that project," said Pat Sabiston, Bay Co. School Board Member.
Board Members plan to re-open the West Bay Elementary campus in 4 years. In the meantime they're looking for possible renters. So far they've been approached with several different possibilities.
"The good thing about West Bay is that it is sectioned so that you can close some of the buildings off and do several different things on that campus. It's in wonderful condition thanks to 1/2 cent sales tax. Our task is going to be making sure it stays in that kind of condition when it opens back up," said Donna Allen, Bay Co. School Board Member.
A.D. Harris is probably the most controversial property, so the board isn't making any quick decisions. The community has asked that the campus remain in public hands and the name "A.D. Harris" stay attached.
Earlier this week, Gregory Dossie of the RainbowPUSH Coalition publicly stated if the community doesn't agree with the school board's use of the A.D. Harris campus, he'll work against those board members' reelection.
But Board Member Pat Sabiston pointed out that several of the A.D. Harris committee members failed to show up to a meeting with her and Superintendent Bill Husfelt this past Monday afternoon.
There are a few meetings coming up for the public to present ideas for the unused facilities. One will take place at West Bay Elementary on April 6 at 2:45 pm.
You can also contact the Board if you're interested in leasing or purchasing a facility at (850) 872-4100.