Bay District Schools having trouble paying for hurricane-related damage

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - School will soon be back in session but students and staff will still have to work around Hurricane Michael damage for the foreseeable future.

School is fast approaching and many students will begin the year in portables while their schools are being repaired. (WJHG/WECP)

Bay District Schools leaders say they're struggling to pay for $300 million dollars worth of hurricane-related repairs.

"We don't have $350 million. This is going to be a process of multiple years," said Bay District Schools Director of Facilities Lee Walters.

Walters said the problem is finding money to pay for the repairs before they can be reimbursed by FEMA.

"Any available resource we have is going towards repairs. Whether it's LCI [Local Capital Improvement] money. If it's an allowable use of half-cent money, we'll use half-cent money," said Walters.

Walters said repair crews have not stopped working because of a shortage of money. He said they have multiple projects in the works including 13 full campus restorations.

"We're trying to get the roofs put on. We're gonna move inside. Then we're gonna start the interior work. We're working on mechanical systems as well," said Walters.

However, those projects will take a while to complete. Local students at Merritt Brown Middle School, Bay High, and many other schools will start the year off in portables and maybe even finish that way.

"It's not necessarily going to be completed by the time that students come back," said Walters. "It'll have a smaller footprint to have the least amount of impact on the learning environment as we possibly can with as many workers we can probably put on the campus."

Walters said they're working with FEMA as well as other entities to find repair money while the work is still ongoing, instead of waiting to be reimbursed.

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