The school for at-risk students and students in the Department of Juvenile Justice partnered with Bay Haven Charter Academy, allowing use of their facilities and Bay Haven students a chance to study outdoor recreation and Sea Cadets.

PANAMA CITY — While changes in their contract with the Department of Juvenile Justice will inevitably bring with it changes in how they operate, AMIKids Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) has not been bought out or taken over by another entity, according to Executive Director Ron Boyce.

Instead, PCMI has partnered with Bay Haven Charter Academy, Inc. to move their marine science units into the old PCMI building, as well as give those Bay Haven students access to outdoor recreation and Sea Cadet courses taught at PCMI.

Boyce said he is not charging Bay Haven for use of their old building, and Bay Haven is providing the transportation for the two sets of students coming to their campus. Bay Haven is paying PCMI a full-time equivalent (FTE) for the students taking outdoor recreation and Sea Cadets — an ROTC-like program run by the US Navy — as they are taught by PCMI staff.

“Both sides, it’s a total marriage made in heaven,” Boyce said.

The result is, essentially, two schools running on the same campus, with Bay Haven students in the old PCMI building and PCMI students in the new building.

The arrangement came out of a bit of a scramble earlier in the year, when DJJ announced in April it would be putting its probationary service contracts out for bid. AMIKids, PCMI’s parent company, holds the probationary service contract for North Florida, and part of the contract includes an educational component, as well as wraparound social services. The new contract; however, would drop the educational component, as well as a large chunk of PCMI’s funding.

Faced with potential funding issues, Boyce said he went to Bay Haven with the idea for a partnership. Ultimately, DJJ decided to extend the probationary services contract until the summer of 2019 rather than end it in the middle of the school year, giving Boyce extra time to sketch out exactly how his program will run without the extra education funding.

“Anything they design now has to take into account it makes less money,” Boyce said.

Boyce said he foresees a scaled-back version of PCMI contracting with Bay District Schools and possibly working with their graduation pathways programs to teach at-risk students — those facing alternative placement or expulsion — along with any DJJ students they can also reach. By keeping the numbers to about 30 and eliminating busing, he said, the expenses and academic programs become much more manageable. The partnership with Bay Haven, he said, would likely also continue.