Marine Ed Center To Lose Four Educators

Sixth grade gifted students from McComb get a crash course on sharks at Biloxi's marine education center. During the school year, students visit nearly everyday for hands on lessons.

"I'd been here by myself just to tour but I never brought a group through here and I didn't realize that they had all the centers that they do. I thought you just came in and toured so it is just a great place for kids to come," Teacher Phyllis Wells said.

Paying groups like classes,  as well as money from special programs, help pay the salaries of four instructors who will lose their jobs next month. They oversee the center's pre-college student programs.

Director Sharon Walker says the programs and overall revenues have shrunk.

"So we have a need in having staff with a different set of skills than what some of our educators have in teaching students," says Walker.

Walker says they're getting more and more grants and contracts that require educators with strong science backgrounds.

"We need masters degrees or with B.S. degrees with more experience than what we have with some of the people who are teaching our students."

Walker says the long term impact the cuts will have on the center is anyone's guess. Plans are still underway to expand. But for the time being, Walker says they will deal with the losses and focus on improving educational requirements to get the center through tight times.

One loss, however, will be the Jason Project.  Shrinking revenues, means for the first time since 1993, the marine education center won't play host to the project. It uses telecommunications like oceanographic remote vehicles to take students to exotic locations around the world.