Education leaders get first look at South MS school recovery

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Some South Mississippi school districts enjoyed a rare visit Wednesday. They played host to some of the top education leaders in the state. The state Board of Education normally meets in Jackson. The last time members came to South Mississippi was right after Katrina.

North Bay Elementary in Bay St. Louis was one of three schools that rolled out the welcome mat for the board. The new school opened last August. It was one of five campuses across Hancock County that was destroyed by Katrina.

"Out of all the devastation, still something good came out of it. I mean, the facilities are just unbelievable," said Charles McClellan, Chairman of the Mississippi Board of Education.

McClelland remembered touring the shattered campuses right after the storm. On Wednesday, he and five board members also visited two other rebuilt schools: Harper McCaughan Elementary in Long Beach and Delisle Elementary in Pass Christian.

"To see the facilities you have now verses then, I think it's breathtaking," said McClellan.

The board members have read about the recovery during their meetings in Jackson. Seeing the progress in person gave them a different perspective.

"And to know the pain you went through to be back at this point is very special and we have a great deal of admiration and respect for what you've done.  It is phenomenal," said Dr. Tom Burnham, Mississippi Superintendent of Education.

And it was a unique opportunity for school district leaders to meet the people who establish education policies in Mississippi.

"We're just excited and honored. We're thrilled to have them come see our brand new school," said Bay-Waveland Schools Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Ladner. "I think it says something about the support for the schools in Mississippi."

After the tour, the board held a work session at the Pass Christian Center for Excellence. At that meeting, Dr. John Kelly was sworn in as the newest member of the board. Kelly is the Chief Administrative Officer for the city of Gulfport.

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