School Board May Consider Rezone to Relieve Growing Beach - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

School Board to Consider Rezoning to Relieve Growing Beach Populations

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Bay District School leaders are taking a close look at school enrollment capacities in Panama City Beach.

They say all three elementary schools are nearly at or above their limit and rezoning sections of the beach may be the best option.

Patronis Elementary School has an enrollment of 96% of capacity. Hutchinson Beach Elementary is at 90%.

Breakfast Point Academy opened its doors just five years ago. Initially, school populations were lower, but the elementary section of the academy is now over capacity, at 119%.

Superintendent Bill Husfelt and School Board Members believe the population in this area of the beach is going to keep growing. Just north of the Academy, new homes are going up quickly in the Breakfast Point community.

At Thursday morning's workshop, leaders agreed they have to create a plan now.

Husfelt said in an ideal situation the district could build a new elementary school on the East end of Panama City Beach.

"We're going to have to have a short term solution and a long term goal," said Husfelt. "The short term solution is we're going to have to probably rezone this next year. We just don't have the capacity to keep those numbers there."

The District also doesn't have the funds to build a new school this year. Among more than 60 school districts in the state, Bay District has one of the lowest millage rates.

Instead, School Board Members may look at rezoning the elementary schools on the beach.

"Rezoning is tough. It's the "R" word. No one really wants to do it because most parents and students are comfortable and happy at the individual school that they are at. That being said, as a Board, as a Board Member, we are tasked with being efficient."

Thursday morning's meeting was just a workshop. The School Board did not make any official decisions. If members do decide rezoning is the best option, they will hold multiple meetings where the public can weigh in before finalizing any changes.

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