Biloxi School Board meets with Kellogg Foundation

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For all the talk about getting $1.5 million to help reopen Nichols Elementary School in Biloxi, supporters haven't even filed a grant application with the Kellogg Foundation. That news came out of a meeting Monday between a foundation representative and the Biloxi School Board.

Kellogg Representative Greg Taylor told the school board it's rare for the foundation to invest in school systems, but Taylor said Nichols Elementary is important enough to the East Biloxi community to offer a grant to save the school.

After the school board closed Nichols and two other schools to save money, the Save Our Schools coalition has fought to open the doors at Nichols, a blue ribbon school.

"Part of what we've seen nationally is that has moved to close the achievement gap is the connection between alumni and community leadership and non-profit infrastructure focused on early childhood out comes for kids. To me, that's what's important about the Nichols piece," Taylor said.

Board members asked Taylor if the foundation wanted to invest in East Biloxi students, why not spend it at nearby Gorenflo Elementary where the majority of the Nichols students and staff are now?

"The jury is out about whether or not just transferring students from just one building to another yields the same results. So I would argue it's more than just simply a building and transporting administration and teacher from one school to another, and therefore, viola, it's going to end up being the same result."

The foundation is not committed to funding after three years.  Taylor said he hopes Superintendent Paul Tisdal works with him on using the $1.5 million grant. But, Tisdale said this solution may not be worth it in the long run.

"That resolves an issue for one elementary school, but creates another elementary with a low enrollment that's expensive to operate," Tisdale said.

A decision was not reached at the workshop, and Tisdale said it could be months before one is made.

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