Biloxi to close three schools, despite parents' objections - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi to close three schools, despite parents' objections

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In a four to one vote Tuesday night, the Biloxi School Board approved closing three schools in the district. Beauvoir Elementary, Nichols Elementary and Michel 6th grade schools will be consolidated with other schools, following recommendations from Superintendent Paul Tisdale.

Beauvoir Elementary will be split between Popp's Ferry and Jeff Davis Elementary Schools. Students at Nichols Elementary will attend Gorenflo Elementary. Michele 6th grade students will attend Biloxi Junior High School.

The board said 6th graders who attend the junior high should be separated from the older students. One board member suggested creating a separate wing for 6th graders.

Protests from parents started before the meeting got underway Tuesday night. Parents from Beauvoir Elementary staged a protest on the corner of Pass Road, just down the street from the school.

Once the meeting began, others joined in the protest. Their pleas to save their schools echoed even louder and with more emotion at the Tuesday night's meeting.

Superintendent Paul Tisdale and the board listened to the people's pleas. After the public comments, Tisdale gave his reasons for recommending the school closures. He pointed to a drop in enrollment of 1300 students post Hurricane Katrina. That drop, Tisdale said, impacts state funding. Those reductions, according to Tisdale, don't factor in additional budget cuts made to state education funding.

Tisdale also pointed to a drop of $1.5 million in gaming revenue for the district. In all, budget officials said the district will lose about $6 million with no matching revenue coming in to fill the gap.

The board also approved other cost-cutting measures. Some school employees will face furloughs. Cuts will be made to the athletics, including eliminating jobs, most of which among 9th grade coaches. Elementary mental health counselors will be eliminated. And the public relations budget will also be cut by 50 percent.

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