Community forum to discuss fate of A.D. Harris dispels myths, rallies support

By: Meredith TerHaar Email
By: Meredith TerHaar Email

Panama City - Dozens attended a community forum Thursday night to discuss the fate of the A.D. Harris High School. The A.D. Harris Improvement Society has been leasing the facility from the Bay County School Board for $1 a year. But due to budget cuts, the district had to terminate the lease.

The CRA stepped in with three different options for the campus. Those in attendance learned that the CRA is leaning toward option 2: taking ownership of the campus temporarily, while the A.D. Harris Learning Village becomes self-sustaining.

The Downtown North CRA would provide a one time grant of $200,000 for operational costs and things like obtaining 501c3 status. The grant would be awarded over 3 years.

After presenting the plan there was time for questions and comments. Many spoke up in support of the it. Others wanted assurance the facility wouldn't be turned over to the rescue mission or be used for drug rehab or parole programs. Mayor Greg Brudnicki assured them that wouldn't happen.

Organizers say it was a good opportunity to dispel any misinformation the public may have heard and explain what they'd like to see the facility become. "We want to reinvent this ground, this campus to become a viable tool for this community," said Toni Shamplain of the AD Harris Improvement Society and CRA North.

The CRA board will vote on the option August 9th. The facility currently has two tenants: a Workforce Center computer lab and a Headstart program for young children.

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