BDS holds town hall meetings for teachers and staff to get hurricane recovery help

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — As the community continues to recover after Hurricane Michael, the process has been extremely difficult for many teachers and school staff in the area, some still looking for places to live.

“A lot of people now are wanting first month’s rent, last month’s rent plus your deposit,” said Greg Bailie, a Bay High School Teacher. “Well that’s five or six thousand dollars and as a teacher? Good luck with that.”

Bailie and his family lost everything in the hurricane.

“Wages haven’t gone up any, but your rent has, your power has, all your bills have,” he said.

He’s trying to pick up the pieces along with hundreds of other Bay District Schools faculty and staff. The school board is trying to help make that process easier. 

“We know that they have a difficult job during the day and they need to be able to do that job without worrying about paying their own bills or where they’re going to live next week,” said Bay District Schools’ Communications Director, Sharon Michalik.

BDS has organized four town hall workshops open to all of their employees. There, they can speak with several different agencies and work out a plan for a more speedy and efficient recovery. Those meetings began on Tuesday, November 5th.

“Everybody who left [Wednesday’s] meeting said it was time well spent,” said Michalik. “Their problems may not have been solved on the spot but they left feeling like, ‘I have a plan.’”

The agencies can help those who need it apply for rental assistance and home rebuilding grants, as well as receive legal help, counseling services, and more.

“If we can help them and guide them and get them to the right resources that can help meet that, it’s going to go a long way,” said Ann Wing, one of the agency representatives at the town hall.

With stronger educators comes a stronger community, and Bay District Schools is working to make that happen with each town hall. 

“To work for a place that was willing to do this says a lot,” said Bailie.

The schedule of remaining meetings can be found below:

  • Thursday, Nov. 7th, 4pm – 5pm (Rutherford High School Cafeteria)
  • Friday, Nov. 8th, 3pm – 4pm (Mosley High School Media Center)

Michalik said the school board will continue to hold town halls like these in the future as the need persists.

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