BAY COUNTY – Panama City wins another college.
The Bay County School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion to change the Tom P. Haney Technical Center to the Tom P. Haney Technical College.
After the school’s advisory board voted unanimously to turn the center into a college in October and received strong support from the Tom P. Haney family, the school submitted the application to the school board, which received positive feedback.
Haney’s principal, Ann Leonard, said she and the entire Haney staff are thrilled with the approval and what it means for the school.
“It more accurately reflects the program offerings and the level of education we provide,” Leonard said. “Now, I anticipate this will have a positive impact on our enrollment, especially with younger students who have just graduated from high school.”
Haney was one of only four COE (Center of Excellence) accredited technical schools in Florida that are still called technical centers and not colleges.
“There are about 44 programs or schools like ours across the state,” Leonard said. “And they all moved under the name of technical college, except for four of us. It was time for Haney to make that move.
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Leonard said the change does not affect the school’s governance, accreditation, funding or educational program offerings. However, school officials expect many positive changes to come from the name change.
“We anticipate this is going to be a positive change and will impact our enrollment and drive more interest in our programs,” Leonard said.
The change is not immediate, Leonard said. School officials still have work to do before finalizing a schedule.
“Our accrediting agency has to grant approval, and then we have to submit paperwork to the state,” Leonard said. “So it probably won’t be official until the first of the year.”
In the meantime, Leonard said the faculty were thrilled and applauded at the reveal at the latest staff meeting. She said she hopes the new college honor will enhance the work of faculty and shed new light on professional education.
“We’re trying to get away from that and that old idea of vocational education, it’s just for people who can’t do anything else,” Leonard said. “And so, I think for our teachers here, it’s very rewarding for them and I think it sends a message that Bay County values post-secondary career technical education.”
As Haney heads into a new year, he is also experiencing other changes on his campus, such as the construction of new buildings and the demolition of buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael. Leonard said she hopes all the exciting changes bring some fresh air to Haney.
“We’re getting ready to have new construction on our campus and to have a new building,” Leonard said. “And I think that, along with the name change, will give us a bit of a brand new opportunity to kind of change the face of the school and the community, but we’re going to continue to deliver highly qualified and in high demand that meet community needs.