Neighbors react to possible closure of Nichols Elementary School - - The News for South Mississippi

Neighbors react to possible closure of Nichols Elementary School


By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – For Edward Robinson, the view from his front yard is a daily reminder of his childhood.  Robinson remembers going to school on the east Biloxi campus, when it was home to Nichols High School.

"It was nice. They had good teachers," said Robinson.

The school became Nichols Jr. High. When the Biloxi School District decided to tear down the building, many neighbors fought hard to build Nichols Elementary in its place.

"I went there. All my kids, grandkids, they went there," said Robinson.

Voters eventually passed a bond issue that provided funding to build Nichols Elementary School in 1999.  Then in 2005, Katrina flooded the new school, and it underwent a multi-million dollar restoration.

Now, Nichols is educating another generation of Biloxi children.  Lakyna Boykin lives across the street from the campus.  She had planned on enrolling her five-year old son there next year.

"It's convenient having an elementary school here by us, to be able to walk my son from the house to the school. That's convenient and it will be nice," said Boykin.

But now, the Biloxi School District is considering closing Nichols and two other schools as part of a plan to save $3.5 million dollars. School district leaders pointed to the enrollment drop, which is still down about 1,300 students since Katrina, and it must deal with ongoing state budget cuts.

"Most of my mom and all my aunts went to school here at Nichols," said Boykin.  "It's a historical school with historical meaning to a lot of people in the area.  So I don't think that them closing Nichols should be a choice. I think they should choose another elementary school in my opinion."

Boykin said she moved away after Katrina, but decided to return to Biloxi last year.  She said losing Nichols would be a blow to the neighborhood.

"Just to know we can come home," said Boykin.  "If the schools are closed, they close more schools, then that's going to keep people from coming home."

WLOX tried to contact Biloxi School Superintendent Dr. Paul Tisdale for a comment on this story, but he did not return any of our phone calls.  We did interview him on Sunday, and he told us closing schools would save the district money on utilities, custodial costs and employee salaries.

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