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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