School Hardening Projects Continue, New Beach Elementary School Drawings Revealed

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Bay district school board members and the district's facilities department met for a workshop to discuss school construction projects. Many of the projects focus on school security and some the district hopes will be funded by the half cent sales tax money which voters will chose to renew or not in the August primary. 

"What children needed in school 40 years ago compared to what we need in our schools today, it's a whole new world," said school board chair Ginger Littleton.

A whole new world includes security projects at every school in the county. The district is well on their way changing school's campuses to one controlled access point.

The district is also installing bullet resistant glass at every school. This glass is not meant to stop a bullet completely but to delay the impact. The district tested out the glass with a high powered rifle which took about four shots to break the glass but the membrane between glass panels remained, preventing the person from being able to enter. 

"We talked to law enforcement and they need us to put items and systems in place to buy them time to get the response they need," said Bay District Facilities Director Lee Walters.

The secure entrances are funded by a $5 million loan while the district waits for state funding from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act.  But the state funding isn't enough for them to complete all the security projects, leaving them to rely on half cent sales tax money which voters will decide to renew or not during the August primary.  

"The hardening of schools, it includes technology, so there's many areas that use the half cent sales tax," said Littleton.

Also during the workshop the district revealed the first drawings of the new elementary school on the beach showing a two story building that will house around 800 students, set to be complete august 2020.

"It's a whole new world and we have to get our students ready for that world, for our kids," said Littleton.

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