Alternative Beach School Program, Start Time Changes Up For A Vote

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PANAMA CITY - Bay District school officials are rethinking plans for a new alternative school for the beaches. They also discussed new school start times next fall, during a roundtable session Thursday afternoon.

Bay County school board members say the roundtable discussion gives them a less formal environment to hammer out issues. They spent most of their time Thursday talking about an alternative school on the beach.

Currently, at risk students go to alternative settings at C.C. Washington Middle School and Rosenwald High School in Panama City.

The board is considering housing the school at Arnold High, but are also looking at reopening West Bay Elementary.

"Using that as the alternative school is indeed an option, but is it the best option in regards to being efficient with the resources that we already have and with taxpayer's money because it will cost quite a bit to reopen that school. Reason being is we're only talking about 50 students," said Steve Moss, a school board member.

The alternative beach school would be about half a million dollars. Half would go to renovating one of the school's buildings and the other money would go toward the management company, the Rader Group, to operate the school.

Board members agree there's a need to help at risk students, but they couldn't come to a consensus on what direction they should go toward.

"Unless one can sell this board member on the efficacy and return on investment of doing that, duplicating a process in a different location that will perhaps yield no more benefit than what we already have seems not a good use of taxpayer funding," said Ginger Littleton, another school board member.

Board members are expected to make a decision at their April 22nd meeting.
Board members also discussed the proposed change to school times this fall. Changes are necessary to make sure bus students get to school on time.

Elementary schools would start 5 minutes earlier, from 7:50 A.M. to 7:45 A.M. The school day would end at 2:00 P.M.

Middle and high schools would start 15 minutes later. Middle schools at 9:00 A.M. instead of 8:45 A.M. They'd get out of school at 3:30 P.M.

High schools would begin at 8:30 A.M. instead of 8:15 A.M. and would end at 3:00 P.M.

There was some discussion about swapping the middle and high school times, but board members agreed to stick with the current recommendation.