Bay Haven Addresses Concerns over Its Racial Demographics

By: Kavontae Smalls Email
By: Kavontae Smalls Email

Lynn Haven -- Bay Haven Charter Academy is one of the highest performing schools in Bay County. A recent request from the charter school to increase its enrollment, led to concerns over its student intake process.

“According to statute and according to our contract, we are to be within the range racially, and the range in Bay County is from 5% to 69%. We are within that range at 18.3%” said Larry Bolinger, Bay Haven Charter Academy Principal.

Bay Haven principal Larry Bolinger says the school uses a blind lottery system. Parents apply and those applications are placed in a database, and on decision day, names are pulled. Bolinger says all they know is a name and the child’s name when they pull names.

“It comes down to a little slip of paper with a child’s name on it, and it goes into a bowl and on March 8th, I’ll be picking out each one of those names and putting them on a list, and that’s how we get the list for the students and that’s how we match it up against the eligible spots” said Bolinger.

Bay Haven’s minority enrollment has increased 5.7% over the past six years. When compared to other area schools, Bay Haven’s 18% minority population places it in the middle.

“About half the schools in elementary and middle have fewer minority students than we do so we really find ourselves basically in the middle” said Bolinger.

Bolinger says their recruiting strategy includes traditional media, flyers, mail outs and visiting community centers in areas such as Glenwood, Callaway and Springfield. They attribute their success to the school’s teachers and parental involvement. Bolinger says teachers are all certified by the state and then sits before other teachers to answer interview questions before hire. Parental involvement is required at Bay Haven as a member of the child’s family must serve at least 20 volunteer hours with the school per year.

“Our teachers, and the research will bear that out and our parental involvement and the child centered right there in the middle with a clear vision, learning is going to take place” said Bolinger.


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  • by June on Jun 2, 2012 at 02:52 PM
    I don't want my child to attend Bay Haven; however, I would like to follow their model at all of the local schools. We need to petition our local and state government officials to change the terms and guidelines for educating children in our state. If Bay Haven can do it, all of the schools in the state can do it. I want my children to attend a diverse school with many cultures and races, but most importantly, a school where a high quality education is all that matters.
  • by Russ Location: Panama City on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:19 AM
    Instead of having our Florida law makers deciding on whether or not to allow students off campus for lunch, how about making parents spend 20 hours per year at their children’s school. That’s less than 1 hour per week.
  • by Rocky Location: Panama City on Feb 8, 2012 at 07:20 PM
    Ok.. so who raised the question about the racisim? I just see statements from Bollinger? But here is the thing. Where are the statements from parents whose kids were'nt chosen? Where is the proof behind the alligations? I mean seriously you call this a news report? They do have a blind lottery as most charter schools do. If they dont have enough black students that is not BHC's fault. It's the fault of the parents who havent attempted to enroll their kids in the school. Unless someone can show otherwise where more black students or other ethnic students were rejected more than white students.. but seriously.. why are we even doing that? Yay for BHC for high scores. Maybe other schools can take their lead and learn parental involvement its VITAL! And yes parents.. its your fault your kids arent performing in school not the schools fault. They give the information, you are the motivation. So get to work and quit whining
  • by Tim Location: Lynn Haven on Feb 8, 2012 at 06:55 PM
    Bay Haven does indeed supply transportation through a contract with Bay District Schools for both campuses. Bay Haven has a complete ESE program for all students except special diploma students as per their contract with BDS. The district's ESE population is 17% and Bay Haven's is 13%. Bay Haven has 18% minority which is better than 7 other BDS elementary schools.
  • by PROCHARTER on Feb 7, 2012 at 11:42 AM
    @Elrod....Exactly correct, sounds like they are jealous to me too!! @RU4REAL...Perfectly said! No, let them in and see if they can pay for uniforms, do all the homework and be committed to all the extra family involvement. They HAVE the same choices I did!!! I choose a better education for my kids!!!!!With no drugs, no fights, adminmistration and teachers who care about your kids!!! BUT ITS MY CHOICE!!My kid was in public school, they told me to hold him back a year eventhough he was performing and I was active at school. HE is at NMB and THRIVING!!! AND HE IS BLACK!!!!!
  • by RU4Real on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:39 AM
    Scott, I just realized I probably misunderstood your point. On 2nd read, it doesn't appear you were saying ESE kids were economically disadvantaged. My apologies.
  • by RU4Real on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM
    Scott, not all kids who are disadvantaged economically require ESE assistance. Some are extremely bright. That said, at least some accomodations are available at BHCA and NBHCA. Both of my children have 504 Plans.
  • by Art on Feb 7, 2012 at 09:15 AM
    As someone below said, "So Bay Haven requires 20 hours of family involvement and doesn't provide transportation for students which both tend to restrict potential students to those whose parents are responisible and involved in their's child's educations." Did you not understand what you stated, if other parent's would take and interest in their children and spend time with them at home and at school, maybe those children at other schools would be better! I worked or attempted to work/tutor a child whose parents, sorry parent, thought it was too much trouble, for the gov't to pay for a tutor and that tutor would come to their house, if they had to adher to some form of schedule. I feel for sorry for so many of the students I have worked with or taught, that the biggest issue in their life is their parents or parent. People need to stop blaming the system and begin spending time with their children. It is not the schools (generally) that cause the issues, there are programs available to the student's which help level the playing field. As for ESE bringing down the average, honestly you can blame the no child left behind program. You cannot test many of these children to the same standards as you hold most children to!
  • by Carla Location: Callaway on Feb 7, 2012 at 08:27 AM
    If 'parents' weren't just looking for a baby sitting service, the 20 hours required for volunteering wouldn't matter. ALL parents should be involved in their child's school wherever they attend. And the transportation issue is just another excuse. I'm sure these same people have the hottest cell phone, latest fashions and freshest hair style. It's all about priorities people.
  • by RU4Real on Feb 7, 2012 at 07:10 AM
    How does requiring parents to volunteer restrict students from attending? My husband and I both work full time and manage to get the hours in, plus 20 hours over the whole school year isn't that much. Also, transportation is provided somewhat, but isn't a straight shot from the child's home or bus stop directly to the school. There's a "layover" at another school where the child may have to catch another bus. Disingenuous . . . seriously? The opportunity is there. Yes, it takes a bit more effort but I see a LOT of parents do it and they don't all drive fancy cars when they drop their student(s) off in the mornings!
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