Biloxi School District to build $30 million junior high due to g - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi School District to build $30 million junior high due to growing enrollment

Officials say an increase in enrollment is one reason for the new building. (Photo source: WLOX News) Officials say an increase in enrollment is one reason for the new building. (Photo source: WLOX News)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Roughly $30 million will be spent building a new junior high school for seventh and eighth graders in Biloxi.

School officials say they haven't made any definite decisions on what the new school will look like, but note that increasing enrollment is behind the construction.

"There's so many children here," said Patty Skrnich, whose grandchildren attend Biloxi Junior High. "They're so packed in that they need room to breathe, and be able to walk around and not feel like they're in a little box." 

Each year for the past five years, total enrollment has jumped by 250 students bringing them up to about 5,900. However, growing enrollment is not the only reason the district is planning to build a new junior high on 15 acres next to the high school. 

Biloxi Schools CFO Shane Switzer noted, "We also see the benefit of putting seventh and eight grade students, which is what would go to a new junior high on the high school campus. We can share resources. We can share facilities and it just makes sense for that age student to be near the high school."

Once the seventh and eighth graders move into the new school, officials plan to do some reshuffling.

"What we plan to do is leave the sixth grade students at the existing junior high, and then bring the fifth graders from the existing elementary schools to the junior high," Switzer. "So thereby we would be creating a fifth and sixth grade school. That automatically frees us up space at the existing elementary to allow for growth we foresee continuing to come." 

Officials say what won't be coming is an additional tax burden for residents. 

"This project can be built without any tax aspect or any tax increase going forward for our citizens," Switzer added. "Financing is not completely done or in place as to which vehicle we're going to take, but we know it will not be a cost to the taxpayers." 

School officials hope to give people may details on the school in the coming weeks. The Biloxi School District has a hearing before the upcoming tree committee, but officials say there are no protected trees on the site.

The district must still secure approval for plans to deal with wetlands and drainage. 

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