Hancock County schools starting $16 million makeover

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - As soon as school lets out this summer in Hancock County, expect to see construction crews moving in. Hancock County voters passed a $16 million bond issue last September. That bond will pay for additions and upgrades at every campus in the district. One of the biggest projects is already underway.

Part of the $16 million bond issue is paying for renovations to an old school gym. The gym was the only building left standing when the former Hancock North Central Elementary School was torn down.

"The gym was built in the '50s. We feel like with the new school opening real soon in August, it was time for the gym to get a total facelift and updated. We're really, really proud of that project," said Alan Dedeaux, Hancock County Schools Superintendent.

The bond will also cover the cost of resurfacing the outdoor basketball court, overlaying the parking lot, and the addition of an outdoor classroom to the campus.

Dedeaux said the school district's outdated buildings are due for a modern overhaul.  All seven campuses will see improvements, like fresh landscaping, safer entrances, and repaved parking lots.

"We're real excited about all the things we have going on at this time," said Dedeaux.

On April 16, the district will open bids on construction projects at the Hancock County Career Technical Center and East Hancock Elementary School. Both campuses will get additional classrooms. More classrooms will be built at South Hancock Elementary and Hancock Middle School.

"We have students that are currently in trailers. Once we add some of these classes to some of our campuses, we'll be able to remove those trailers and that's going to free up some room so we could build a soccer complex," said Dedeaux.

Most of the work will be at Hancock High. The district will upgrade the athletic facilities and band practice field, remodel the cafeteria to give it a café setting, and it is designing a $5 million Performing Arts Center.

"We're really excited about that," said Dedeaux. "We want to try and make sure that we've got the best academics, we've got the best arts, and also the best athletic programs that we can possibly have. We're just trying to touch every area to make our schools better all around."

"Kind of like a house. You need to always renovate, put some money in it, keep it up. I think it brings a lot of pride to our community," he added.

The district is also installing GPS and video cameras on all 75 school buses, which is also funded by the bond issue. And the older campuses will be more handicapped accessible.

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