Local charter schools' facilities see improvements since Hurricane Michael

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Hurricane Michael's destruction did not discriminate when it came to damaging local schools. Private, charter and traditional public schools sat in the storm's path.

Holes, cracks, and caution tape have become commonplace since the storm. Although Hurricane Michael created some dark times, Rising Leaders Academy Principal Amber Perryman believes there is a bright side to the damage.

Among improvements, Perryman noted, "New flooring, a lot of new paint, new roof," and repairs to the gymnasium.

Bay Haven Charter Academy's gym wasn't spared in the storm either.

"We lost the entire wood floor of the gym, but we were able to save the bobcat," Chief Education Officer Larry Bolinger said.

Before Bay Haven replaces the hardwood court, Bolinger said students will be allowed to sign their names on the gym floor.

He said, "We're going to let each one of them sign their name and say a little special message to the new floor in the bobcat gym."

Bolinger also said enrollment has dropped about ten percent since the storm as students relocate.

He encourages families to enroll their students for this year as well as next year.

Registration is also open for Rising Leaders Academy.

While Rising Leaders and Bay Haven students returned to their campuses in November, another charter school's first day back came in the new year.

University Academy students returned to their campus Monday, January 7th.

Principal Wes Smith said after the main building was damaged, students were split up between Edgewater Beach Resort and Gulf Beach Baptist Church.

"You know, they weren't traditional locations, but we have a phenomenal group of teachers and they made both facilities work for us," Smith said.

The school now has modulars to accommodate students and faculty.

Smith said, "It's tough going through it, but we know in the end we're going to be back at our main building just like we were at the start of the school year and actually be better than it was before."