Balboa ES History

Opened: 1907
Closed: 1999

The original Balboa Elementary School was opened in 1907 in a small wooden structure. By 1915 the school was a large wooden facility with open balconies around the building. In 1939 an annex was added to the original school. A new elementary school was built in 1965.

Located in the Pacific town side of Balboa the Balboa Elementary School was a three-story, air-conditioned, concrete building when it became a part of the DoDDS system. The 1980’s saw the construction of a concrete bus structure extending along the side of the building. This structure on Carr Street had concrete benches which were built under the bus structure.

Students at Balboa Elementary School came from a variety of locations. Some students came from Fort Amado, the naval Station (15th Naval District). Other students came from: Quarry Heights and the Panama Canal Commission towns of Ancon, Balboa, Balboa Heights, Pedro Miguel, parts of Panama City, and La Boca. When the Elementary School closed in 1988 more students had come to Balboa from Gamboa.

In 1981-1982 the student population was 17% military sponsored, 72% sponsored by other government agencies and 11% tuition students. By October 1989, the percentages were 30% military sponsored, 65% sponsored by other US government agencies and 5% tuition students. Relocation of US military families and Panama Canal Commission dependents due to political relations had a profound effect on the enrollment in the school.

Balboa Elementary School had 300 students at the end of school year 1988-1989 which was less than half the number enrolled in the school in 1979. For the 1987-1988 school year there were thirty-seven faculty members including aides and specialists. There were four half-day kindergarten classes, three sections for grades one through four, one fifth grade and two six grades.

In December 1989 there were 17 classroom teachers assigned to the school. Eight of these teachers were hired locally including three military wives, eight were recruited from the states and one was a transfer from DoDDS Mediterranean.

In 1989-1990 there were two classes at each grade level. Specialists included: music, art, physical education, media, TAG, compensatory education, resource, English as a Language, and speech.

After school activities at the school included the Junior Great Books program, Panamanian typical dance classes, a choir, instrumental music classes, art enrichment classes and a computer club. The School Advisory Council sponsored an annual outdoor field day and the yearbook until these functions were taken over by the PTO in 1987.

Interaction between the students of the two schools were facilitated by the close proximity to Balboa High School. Balboa Elementary School students attended and gave concerts at the high school, visited the high school library and science fairs and the annual consumer program sponsored by the high school business department.

Sources: School yearbooks

Schooling in the Panama Canal Zone 1904-1976, DoDDS Panama 1979-1989

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