Bay Haven Charter Academy's request for 15 year charter may face opposition

Lynn Haven- Bat County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt and school board chairwoman Ginger Littleton met with board members of the Bay Haven Charter Academy on Thursday night, with a packed house watching. There were several somewhat controversial items on the table for discussion, one of those being an extension of the school's charter. Bay Haven board members didn't get the answer they were hoping for.

The 250 arents and teachers who attended Bay Haven Charter Academy's Thursday night meeting were there because of some possible changes to the school's charter that would give teacher's state retirement benefits in-exchange for allowing more minority and ESE students to attend the school. But that took a backseat to another issue that came up during the discussion.

Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt said most of the school board members don't want to approve Bay Haven's charter for 15 years. Husfelt say the board is leaning toward a 2-year extension. "It's the economy and there are all kinds of problems that come up if it doesn't work out. That is what we've got to talk about with them."

Bay Haven officials say they need the long-term charter to secure funding for their plans to open 3 new schools in the next few years. "We have over 1,000 students on the waiting list, in order to meet the needs of the community we have to have these new schools," said Laura Swindler, a Bay Haven parent. "We had the same issue with Bay Haven when when we were first starting and when we got to the point where we were ready to finance the district gave us the 15 year contract. We are already starting to explore our financing options for North Bay Haven so we need that now," said Bay Haven Board of Directors President Scottie Haney.

Haney is determined to work with the school board and come to an agreement. "It is a hurdle. We need to convince the schoolboard to give us a 15 year charter is what it boils down to." If the school board does not grant the longer-term charter, Haney isn't giving up hope on the new charter facilities. "It would certainly create a big problem for us but we have dealt with problems in the past. We would deal with the problem just like we have with the others. We would find a way."

More than 600 students have applied for admission to North Bay Haven when it opens next fall. No word as to when the school board will vote on the Bay Haven Charter extension.


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