Oscar Patterson Elementary in Danger of Being Taken Over

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - The Bay County School Board may be forced to turn over Oscar Patterson Elementary School to a charter or education management company next year.

Oscar Patterson is one of nearly 40 schools in Florida in danger of being taken over or closed next year if it doesn't earn a "C" grade this year.

"Our goal and intention is for Patterson to pull their grade up to a "C," and we think they're very capable of that, but the state says ok, but whatever you think you're going to do, you have to pick one of these choices just in case," Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.

Under the state's new education law, board members must have a plan in place for Oscar Patterson as soon as possible. The law cuts the time schools have to turn around their grades and gives districts only three options to improve schools.

The Patterson Oversight Committee voted Thursday night to recommend an outside entity, such as a district-managed charter school, operate Oscar Patterson if it doesn't improve.

The other two options included closing the school or having a charter school operate on the campus.

It was an emotional decision, as 16 of the 33 voting members either didn't choose an option or wrote in another suggestion.

"I don't want to close the school. The community wants the school there," Husfelt said.  "We're having to do something we don't want to do, and it is the choice of two bad choices, the lesser of two evils."

School board members will have the final say and consider the recommendations at their December 12th meeting. If they vote to contract with a charter school, the board will need to sign a contract with an entity by January 31st.

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