GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – Gulfport School Superintendent Glen East had hoped to see hundreds of happy children enjoying their new 28th Street Elementary campus by now. Instead, the hallways and classrooms at the new school are filled with construction workers and equipment.
"We had a little of design issues out front that we had to correct," said East. "We had a really rainy October and November, you may remember. So things have slowed a little bit."
"I guess I'm applying the old story of the Tortoise and the Hare. We've been plodding along like that tortoise. We're going to get to the goal line here pretty quickly, we hope."
Crews are still working on the wall tiling, flooring, painting, and shelving. The library and 26 classrooms aren't quite finished either. Principal Lea Bellon is anxious for the building to be ready soon.
"That was a slight disappointment, obviously, for everyone," said Bellon. "But again, we want our building to be as beautiful and ready as it can possibly be."
Since Katrina damaged the old school, the students and staff have been split up. Half are at Gaston Point Elementary. The rest are at Central Elementary. A few students are attending classes at West Elementary.
"We have told them that the anticipated move in date is March," said Bellon. "We're very optimistic and we're very hopeful that will be the move in date. We're telling them that we want more than anything else for them to be in this building as soon as it's ready, but it's really out of our control right now."
"You got a group of fifth graders who went through Hurricane Katrina in the first grade," said East. "Letting them have a taste of a new building, I think, will be pretty neat."
The new school is located on 46th Avenue, which is about 1.2 miles west of the old school. When the school opens in March, about 270 students are expected to attend. However, the building can hold up to 550 children.