Panama City- Twenty years ago, the first charter school in the United States opened its doors to students in Minnesota.
In 2012, 41 states including Florida now have charter schools.
Although it's been two decades since the nation's first charter school opened, Bay County didn't get it's first charter school until 12 years ago.
Dr. Tim Kitts says he started Bay Haven Charter Academy Inc in December of 2000.
"We got started with 225 children and 12 faculty and staff and it was very bare bones," said Dr. Kitts.
Fast forward 12 years, and Bay Haven is growing.
There's now a North Bay Haven Academy which includes high school.
The waiting list for North Bay Haven and Bay Haven Charter Academy includes two thousand students.
Other local charter schools are also filling up quickly.
"We have ten charter schools in our district and the challenge has been to balance student fluctuations among the traditional public schools and public charter schools," said Carra Summers an Instructional Specialist with Bay District Schools.
Dr. Kitts says he's working with Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt to form a cooperative venture, allowing charter schools to partner with traditional public schools.
That project is still in its very early stages.