LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Long Beach's newest school is already running out of room.
Harper McCaughan Elementary School opened just five years ago to replace the campus that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Now, it needs more space to accommodate an expected influx of students.
Discovery students from Harper McCaughan Elementary School have to attend gifted classes at nearby Quarles Elementary. The reason is there's not enough space at Harper McCaughan to house the gifted program.
"The time that it takes to travel to Quarles, get them on the bus, get them off the bus, get them ready for class, I mean, we're losing classroom time for those students," said Harper McCaughan Principal Russ Badeaux.
"They miss out on activities over there. Sometimes, they're delayed in coming to Discovery, because if there's testing or something like that, then we have to wait until everyone is finished so they can make one trip over here," said Harper McCaughan Discovery Teacher Deborah Holt.
The principal said the building for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders is near capacity now. And in two years, he expects to see at least 270 fourth graders arrive at Harper McCaughan. That's about 40 more fourth graders than the school normally gets every year.
"Houses are coming back. We have some large apartment complexes that are being built in Long Beach, so our numbers are going up," said Badeaux.
Right now, there are no classrooms available for any increases in enrollment. So the ground work has started on a $2.2 million expansion project. The district is adding eleven new classrooms, three of which will be just for the fourth graders.
"And then we'll have a multi-purpose room. The multi-purpose room will be for our band, our band practices in our cafeteria at this time. We have 90 band members, and during the day, we'll have a computer lab available to us," said Badeaux.
Four of the classrooms will be dedicated to the Discovery program. That means the gifted students and teachers can finally call Harper McCaughan their home.
"I think it's going to be wonderful, because then we're back with a school, we're part of a school, we're able to do a lot of things for the school," said Holt. "I think the kids will be very excited to be back there with their school all week."
The school will have some extra classrooms available for future growth, or to house more gifted classes. The expansion project should be finished by early next summer.