Ocean Springs restructuring will move students, close school

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Construction on the new Ocean Springs High School should come to an end next May. When the school opens in August, 2012, that will free up a lot of space in the district to help ease overcrowded campuses.

"We got trailers at every campus. I've got teachers sharing rooms. We actually began to outgrow the district, probably, seven or eight years ago," said Ocean Springs Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Hirsch.

School leaders are fine-tuning a restructuring plan that will affect every school in the district. For instance, the old high school will soon have a playground. That's because all the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders will be moving to the old high school campus.

That means the middle school will be strictly for seventh and eighth graders, and all the elementary schools in Ocean Springs will be for Kindergarten through third grades.

"I think this arrangement will be more age appropriately. I think educationally, it's more sound. Also there will be less movement. The kids won't be moving, especially in grades four, five and six. So it's a great plan," said Hirsch.

The biggest change will take place at Taconi. The fifth grade campus will close as an elementary school. The district wants to use the building as a training center, and plans are in the works to share the space with other programs, like Head Start, the YMCA, and the Mary C. O'Keefe Center.

Hirsch said all these changes will mean a big adjustment, and not just for students.

"Probably 60 percent of the teachers in the district will be swapping campuses," said Hirsch. "A lot of excitement amongst the teachers, but also a lot of worry and a lot of concern. So it's a big move. It will probably be the biggest move in the history of the school district, as well as the city of Ocean Springs."

About 5,400 students currently attend Ocean Springs schools. The superintendent expects the enrollment to increase, especially over the next five years. Again, the school restructuring plan won't go into effect until August of 2012.

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