Fate of Oscar Patterson Elementary still undecided

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The future of Oscar Patterson Elementary School remained undecided after Tuesday afternoon's Bay District School Board meeting.

The Florida Department of Education is requiring the district to choose from one of three options of how to move forward with the consistently low-performing school.

Tuesday's meeting allowed the opportunity for board and community members alike to voice their opinions about how to handle Patterson.

The DOE gave three options:
- Close the school, transfer the students to a higher performing school(s) and monitor the students for a three-year period.

- Close the school and reopen the school as one or more charter schools, with a governing board that has a demonstrated record of effectiveness.

- Contract with an outside entity that has a demonstrated record of effectiveness to operate the school. This may include a district-managed charter school in which all instructional personnel are not employees of the school district, but are employees of an independent governing board comprised of members who did not participate in the review or approval of the charter.

"We're going to look and see if we can get the extra year. I don't feel confident of that, but we're going to go ahead and try that and then look at also the contracted charter company coming in. I mean, those are the only two viable options. No one wants to close Patterson and that's why I was glad we had this chance to talk," Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.

School board members discussed how they have tried to provide incentives for teachers to come to Patterson to help boost performance.

"It's a question of risk versus reward. A highly effective teacher who comes to Oscar Patterson puts their own data at risk. Teachers are responsible for achieving a certain level of data or they lose their jobs and the one thing that the district cannot do is indemnify a teacher to waive that requirement," Alexis Underwood, Association of Bay County Educators President, said.

Superintendent Husfelt said parental involvement is crucial to student success. School board members said they need to figure out a way to encourage parents to become involved.

During the public hearing, some members of the public stated they think the district needs to do more to help the school.

For now, the board is leaning towards the third option of a district-managed charter if the board doesn't receive an extra year extension.