Former Sallie Mae building may be new home to Bay Haven Charter Academy Inc.

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

Panama City-- The Sallie Mae service center in Lynn Haven will find new life as the home of North Bay Haven Charter Academy. The big question is when.

The 2 companies announced a tentative deal for the sale of the facility and the acquisition gives Bay Haven a number of options for the future.

"Well we need a home. A final home. A final place for North Bay Haven," said Chief Education Officer of Bay Haven Charter Academy Inc., Tim Kitts.

And it appears that new home will be the former Sallie Mae service center in Lynn Haven. North Bay Haven opened this fall, using the old Panama Christian school buildings at Central Baptist Church.

"For over a year, Bay Haven Charter Academy Inc. has been in negotiations with multiple facilities regarding a future facility for the North Bay Haven schools," said Kitts.

The purchase price for the building and property for Bay Haven Charter Academy is one and a half million dollars. The 23 acre property is appraised at more than 11 million. Kitts says with a little renovation, it makes the perfect place for a school.

"Its hurricane shuttered. It has tremendous security systems. Tremendous technology infrastructure so it's an exciting building," said Kitts.

Last fall, the schools board of directors cut a deal to take over the terminal building at the old airport site. Kitts says they plan to keep that property in addition to the Sallie Mae facility.

"We have huge waiting lists over there and we still have huge waiting lists over here so we're responding to the demand that we have for the quality of the programs we enjoy here for our students," said Kitts.

Although these properties will give Bay Haven the space to add more students, the charter agreement with Bay District Schools will only allow a maximum student population of 1,600. The charter also calls for Bay Haven's student population to reflect that of the district.

"Our board has been very watchful of this and is going to continue to watch the number and the percentages and make sure that they're more reflective of either the district or the area they're in," said Superintendent Bill Husfelt.

School board members also want to make the charter school isn't cherry-picking the best students.

"The only down side would be for those students who bleed into the charter system. If they're equitable and they're students from across the board then everything's equitable. If they are students who are skimmed from the top for whatever reason, then I think it does create inequity and that's probably not terribly fair," said Bay District School Board Member, Ginger Littleton.

Bay Haven's board is scheduled to finalize the Sallie Mae deal at their next board meeting this Friday at noon.

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