East Biloxi Boys & Girls Club gets the boot

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - More students are being affected by the re-purposing of a Biloxi elementary school. The Biloxi School District is terminating the lease for the East Biloxi Boys & Girls Club.

The club was leasing space at Gorenflo Elementary. But district leaders say there will be no room for the Boys and Girls Club once Lopez Elementary students are moved to Gorenflo.

It's a decision that has many parents upset. Once the school day is over, many parents in East Biloxi rely on the Boys & Girls Club to look after their children.

"It's easier for the parents that's in this local area," said parent Lisa Ducksworth. "You don't have to worry about transportation because they are right here at the school."

About 200 students attend the East Biloxi Boys & Girls Club after school and during the summer.

"He's a handful but I try to get him somewhere to keep him occupied and keep him out of trouble because he stays in trouble," said parent Tonya Brown.

Brown depends on the club to look after her six-year-old until she gets off work.

"I'm a single parent and everything is expensive. And places that do have openings, I can't afford it," said Brown.

But now Brown and hundreds of other parents may have to find another place for their children this summer. The Biloxi School District has no plans to renew the lease for the East Biloxi Boys & Girls Club.

"We had communication with the Boys & Girls Club prior to a year ago that basically said, 'Okay in this next school year, you guys be prepared that there's a chance that we are going to take these classrooms back," said Shane Switzer, business manager for the Biloxi School District.

The club is currently leasing space at Gorenflo Elementary, a school that right now has about 140 students. Because of the re-purposing of Lopez Elementary, Gorenflo will have about 200 additional students in the fall.  And to keep a low student-teacher ratio, leaders say they will have to utilize the wing that was being leased to the club.

It's something club leaders anticipated, but not quite this soon.

"It was always out there that it would be a possibility," said Sam Burke. "We, as well as everyone, were waiting to see what decisions were made at an administrative level and then we were going to act accordingly."

With a May 31 move out date, Boys & Girls Club leaders are now scrambling to find a new building and parents are keeping their fingers crossed.

"I really don't want to try and find somewhere else. I really feel comfortable with the Boys & Girls Club," Brown said.

Sam Burke with the Boys & Girls Club told WLOX News that they are working diligently to find a new space in time for the summer program and are close to securing a new spot.

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