PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — As News 13 first reported Tuesday night, Bay District School officials are moving forward with plans for a new school in Panama City Beach.
Bay District Schools Director of Facilities, Lee Walters says the urgent need for the school will necessitate some alternative financing.
“The plan has been in the works since before Hurricane Michael happened,” said Walters.
They say they need the school because of the population shift to the beaches after Hurricane Michael.
“If the hurricane had not come through, we would be nearly completed with the school now,” said Walters.
But Bay District School officials put those plans on hold to address all of the damaged campuses on the East side of the county.
Many families, whose homes were destroyed, began moving to the beaches which were barely affected.
“The beach continues to grow and grow,” said Walters.
So, the new school is once again a priority.
“Every school on the beach, every principal from middle school, elementary school, I hear from them often that I’m really running out of space here, what’s your plan? We don’t want to put the kids in modulars but what’s the plan here? And that’s why we’ve got to address this,” said Walters.
District officials are also under a deadline. The St. Joe Company, which donated the land, is requiring construction to begin in 2020.
“This is towards the end of Chip Seal Pkwy., which is also where the new sports park was built,” said Walters.
Plans call for the school to begin as a K thru 2nd grade, adding a new grade level each year.
It will eventually grow to become a K-thru-8 school, similar to Breakfast Point Academy.
Most new schools are funded by the state legislature, but that process can take years. So district officials have decided to borrow the money.
“The funding for the new school will be a certificate of public participation which is basically a bond initiative,’ said Walters.
The district plans to break ground in 2020 with the opening of the school hopefully by 2021.