Construction set to begin on new Harrison Co element - - The News for South Mississippi

Construction set to begin on new Harrison Co elementary school


Construction is expected to begin in January on a new elementary school in Harrison County.

On Monday, the school board hired a Laurel company to build the $12.4 million school.  The superintendent tells WLOX-News about the school's design, when it will open, and what it will be called.

Crews are already clearing the land on Three Rivers Road, the site of Harrison County's newest school.

"We already have a school on the road named Three Rivers, so the new school will be named River Oaks Elementary," said Harrison County Schools Superintendent Henry Arledge.

River Oaks Elementary will be a K-6th grade school. It will have 35-classrooms, along with a library, cafeteria, gym, and offices. The school will have the capacity of up to 900 students; however, it's designed for future expansion.

"This school is on a 25 acre tract of land. You could double the size of the school, in other words, add another 35 classrooms," said Arledge.

Arledge said he wouldn't be surprised if that extra land is actually put to use. This year, schools in Harrison County gained between 400-500 new students, and he expects that trend to continue. More homes are already going up around the new campus.

"It's going to continue to grow 300-400, perhaps 500 students a year is what it looks like to us," said Arledge. "So we're trying to take care of the problem we have now, and at the same time address future growth."

River Oaks Elementary is being built to help relieve overcrowding at elementary schools in the Orange Grove and Woolmarket areas.

"For years we were able to add on, add a wing on, add air conditioning, add something to the building. It's just gotten to a point where there's not enough space any more," said Arledge.

When the new school opens, he said some students will be shifted to different campuses.

"We're going to have to adjust enrollment numbers at a number of schools, not just this one school. It will affect probably eight or ten elementary schools before it's over with," said Arledge.

River Oaks Elementary should be ready to open by August of 2014.  Again, the project will cost about $12.4 million.  The district took out two, interest-free "School Construction Zone" loans to buy the property and build the school.   

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