No meeting over Nichols Elementary between foundation and school board

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Representatives with The Kellogg Foundation were in Biloxi on Monday to evaluate ongoing needs on the coast.

The charitable organization, based out of Michigan, has offered more than a million dollars to the Biloxi Public School District to help re-open Nichols Elementary School.  The school board voted to close the school for the year due to budget constraints.

The group spent the majority of the day visiting non-profit organizations in East Biloxi.  They also spent time looking at recovery and rebuilding efforts along the coast.

The Kellogg Foundation wrapped up its day in Biloxi with a closed-door meeting for invited community guests. Community partners working with the Moore Community House, the Hope Community Development Agency and Coastal Family Health were among those at the meeting.

"Every year our trustees like to get out into the community and have conversations directly with community leaders, residents and others. So that's what Monday's conversation was about," said Greg Taylor, Vice President of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

But, as they met with members of the community, the conversation shifted toward Nichols Elementary School.

"I know there's an interest on both sides to sit down and talk about the ways Nichols schools can be used in the future," says Taylor.

But, that meeting didn't happen on Monday.  Biloxi Superintendent Paul Tisdale said he sent a letter to the Save Our School Coalition to line up a meeting with the parties involved. He said he learned Monday that the district would not be able to meet with the Kellogg Foundation.

Bill Stallworth, of the Save our Schools Coalition, said he was out of town and didn't receive the letter until Friday.

Stallworth said while Nichols is an issue of importance, the group's tightly-planned schedule was already laid out.  The Kellogg Foundation's primary reason for coming down, he said, was to meet with community partners as part of its annual board meeting.  The coast was just one leg of the group's trip across the state.

Taylor said he's still willing to come back and meet with the board and superintendent when time can be devoted to a special meeting.

The $1.5 million grant proposal will be on Tuesday's school board agenda as the superintendent updates the board on the issue.

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