Community leaders concerned about the future of Oscar Patterson Elementary School

Oscar Patterson Elementary was mothballed by Bay District Schools and its future remains...
Oscar Patterson Elementary was mothballed by Bay District Schools and its future remains uncertain a year after that decision. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 13, 2020 at 7:45 AM CDT
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“Typically when you mothball the school you prep it up, seal it up and do all the things to preserve it,” said Oscar Patterson Oversight Committee member Tony Bostick. “As you can walk around campus and see the school is beginning to deteriorate.”

Community leaders say A.D. Harris and Rosenwald and other historically black schools have either been closed or re-purposed. Many don’t want the same thing to happen to Oscar Patterson. Especially since Bay District Schools is planning to build a new

in Panama City Beach.

“There’s been at least three tries to close the school. We want to school in our community we’ve made that clear,” said Dr. Rufus Wood Jr. with the Bay County Branch of the NAACP.

Oscar Patterson Elementary School was mothballed nearly a year ago.

Bostick said Patterson was once a premier school in the Panhandle but the school hasn’t received the same support and resources compared to other schools in the district.

“It just does not make sense,” said Bostick. “Oscar Patterson has a potential to be a great school. They pull themselves up by their bootstraps two letter

in one year and that still wasn’t good enough.”

Bay District Schools officials say they’re facing some roadblocks when it comes to reopening the school, such as a

which only applies to Patterson. Which requires the school’s African American population not to exceed 50%. Officials also say many students left the area after Hurricane Michael.

“The need at the beach is totally different because the number it’s growing out there,” said Bay District Schools School Board member Pamm Chapman. “We have to balance everything out.”

However, some like Bostick said the decree helps the school maintain diversity and believes there are enough kids in the area to open the school.

“They use the excuse of having not enough student population to justify or make it profitable, when kids at the school was sent to other schools in the area,” said Bostick.

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