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-side town of Balboa, the Balboa Elementary School was a three-story, air-conditioned, concrete building when it became a part of the DoDDS system. The 1980s 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. The school had approximately 600 students for the 1981-82 school year. There were three kindergarten sessions, three first grades, four second grades, three third grades, three fourth grades, four fifth grades, and two sixth grade classes. Special education services were available at the school. The principal was Robert White.

Balboa Elementary School had 300 students at the end of the 1988-89 school year, which was less than half the number enrolled in the school in 1979. For the 1987-88 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 1989-90 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.

By the 1987-88 school year, the enrollment began decreasing and dropped to approximately 460 students by the 1994-95 school year.

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


Sources: School yearbooks, DoDDS School Information Guides and Schooling in the Panama Canal Zone 1904-1976, DoDDS Panama 1979-1989

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