The emotions were palpable at Tuesday's Bay County School Board meeting. Discussions lasted more than four hours as board members tried to decide whether to renew Newpoint High School Charter Academy's charter.
"I believe wholeheartedly what Newpoint is doing," said one Newpoint supporter.
"Newpoint saved my child," added a parent.
"From the heart closing a school is very difficult," School Board Chairman Jerry Register said.
The sticking point didn't involved Newpoint's academics. A once "D" grade school climbed to a "B" this year. District officials said they're concerned how Newpoint is managing or mismanaging its finances.
"Hundred dollar even items. In 30 years of business law and depositions when I see that, I know someone is manipulating the numbers," said Attorney Jeff Whitton, representing Bay District Schools' Community Charter Review Committee.
Whitton also questioned a $160,000 line of credit Newpoint's parent company reportedly took out with Centennial Bank.
"It took about 90 seconds of questioning about that letter of credit to find out it wasn't a liability on their assests sheet."
Newpoint officials fired back claiming the district got the numbers wrong.
"We still have an obligation to the public and that obligation is not going to be spoken away," School Board Member Ginger Littleton said.
"If you drill into the financials, really looked at them, or had a professional do that, you would know how incorrect that is," Newpoint Education Partners' C.E.O. Marcus May responded.
Both sides said they wanted more time. School Board member Ryan Neves motioned to deny Newpoint's current charter with intention of revisiting the issue within the next 90 days.
"The worst thing you could do today is deny our charter because the press will say you've denied our charter," said Newpoint Board Chairman Ron Danzey.
That failed 3 votes to 2. Board Member Steve Moss then restated his motion to renew the charter for 2 years instead of 5. That failed again. Ultimately they managed to agree to table any decision until a special meeting next Thursday at 1:00 p.m. at Bay District Schools' headquarters.