School Campuses Turn Into Construction Zones

Construction crews are tearing up the yard at Vancleave Lower Elementary. They're clearing land to make room for eight new classrooms.

Superintendent Rucks Robinson says the additions are necessary, because the school expects a big jump in enrollment next year when the new military housing complex opens.

"Naval Station Pascagoula is giving us approximately 200 new students in the Vancleave schools," Robinson said.

Heavy machinery are also at work at St. Martin East and St. Martin North Elementary schools. Crews are expanding the cafeterias and covering up exposed entrances to both schools to make them safer.

"It'll be one entrance for the students to come in. It will be enclosed. They can come straight into the building and not just be a wide open area that anybody can come into," Assistant Principal Judy Moore said.

And here's a welcome sight. Central heat and air conditioning units are being installed to replace those old window units in the classrooms and offices throughout the school district.

"The teachers are thrilled about the AC. Those window units were very difficult to speak over when they were teaching. They would have to turn off their window unit or heater so they could teach," Moore said.

"Also, the students sitting closest to the air conditioner got cold and they brought their sweaters and the other ones further away were kind of warm. Hopefully this will take care of that problem."

"It's very exciting. If you ever had to teach over a window unit, you'd understand," Robinson said.

So when students and teachers return to school this fall, they'll come back to a more comfortable, attractive and secure place to learn.

"I think the environment has everything to do with education. I think when children come to school in a good environment, they come to school ready to learn. They're proud of their school. Parents are proud of their school. I think ultimately what happens is it translates to better test scores," Robinson said.

"We're excited, because all this new update is going to be a positive thing," Moore said.

The final project begins in July at Vancleave Middle School. It's getting two more classrooms, a new gym and band hall. All the construction projects will cost the district about $10 million.