HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Changes are coming to the Harrison County School District. This August, more than 600 students will be moving into a brand, new elementary school. There is already talk of building more schools in the future.
The huge 75,000 square foot brick building certainly stands out on Three Rivers Road. River Oaks Elementary School is six months away from completion.
"In my opinion, it's on schedule and will be completed. There shouldn't be any problems at all," said Harrison County Schools Superintendent Henry Arledge.
Inside, crews are building bleachers in the full-size gym. They're also installing light fixtures, bathroom tiles, and a mini-split air-conditioning and heating system that should help lower power bills. They still have to finish up work on the administrative offices, library, and a combination cafeteria/auditorium.
"We still have a lot of work to do. We're very excited," said Arledge.
Arledge said the new K-6 grade school will help relieve overcrowding at Woolmarket, Three Rivers, and Bel-Aire Elementary Schools. Plus, new homes continue to spring-up around the new campus.
"Every time we build a school, it happens. People want to live close to a school," he said.
While district leaders wait for River Oaks to open, they are already looking at plans for more school construction in the future. Arledge said D'Iberville and West Wortham Elementary and Middle Schools are also overcrowded. So the district may consider building one, possibly even two schools, to accommodate growth in those areas.
"I think you're going to have to in the next few years. I don't know when, but to say we won't build on in the next ten years is wrong. We've got to be planning now for the future, but right now, I'm not sure how much planning I can do when I don't have any money," said Arledge.
The focus now is on making sure River Oaks Elementary is finished by June and ready for students in August.
Arledge said some students from Woolmarket Elementary, Three Rivers Elementary, Bel-Aire Elementary, and possibly Crossroads Elementary, will be transferred to the new $12.4 million school. The district is in the process of adjusting those attendance zones and will notify parents before school lets out for the summer.