Biloxi School Board Fights Overcrowding, Not Each Other

Enrollment at Biloxi's North Bay Elementary School is up 320 students since the school opened in 2000. Laurie Pitre has been principal of the school nearly as long.

"When a new student comes into a classroom of 28," she admitted, "it's hard to find a desk, hard to find a chair, and hard to find space."

Incoming superintendent Dr. Paul Tisdale told school board members enrollment will go up again next year district-wide. He has a plan to free up classroom space.

"What I would suggest is we not permit any new tuition students at North Bay, or Popps Ferry, or Lopez or Jeff Davis," he said.

That means only currently enrolled tuition students will be eligible to attend those elementary schools. That will give Biloxi students the room they need to learn.

This year, the school district had 133 out of town students who paid to attend a Biloxi school. It's interesting to note that Biloxi schools made almost $80,000 of additional revenue this year from the tuition program.

"They're not our students to begin with," Dr. Tisdale said. "So I mean it's losing money we were never entitled to."

Losing tuition students will free up at least five desks at North Bay next year. If Principal Pitre needs additional space, she'll have to put on her thinking cap.

"We're always going to have school no matter how many children we have," she said. "It just functions a little bit better when we're not quite as crowded."

The Biloxi School Board is considering two options to handle its long-term overcrowding fears. One plan is to build an addition onto North Bay Elementary School. The other plan is to build a second school near Cedar Lake Road. Both options were discussed during Tuesday's school board workshop.