GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - River Oaks Elementary School has only been open for three years, but the campus is about to get much bigger. The Harrison County School Board recently approved plans for a $2.1 million expansion project for the school on Three Rivers Rd. in Gulfport.
Land is already being cleared to accommodate the 13,000-square-foot expansion. The new academic wing is expected to be completed in time for the 2018-2019 school year and will add 10 classrooms to keep up with the growing student population.
"We are so excited about our classroom additions. It is a great feeling to know that the community and parents trust us with their children's education so much that there is a need to expand our school campus," said River Oaks Principal Dr. Shelly Simmons.
School district officials said River Oaks is already using every space available in the school, and the need to expand comes with new homes going up in the area.
"The Harrison County School District continues to grow, especially in this area. River Oaks Elementary is still a new school, so it's exciting to see it continue to grow," said Harrison County School District Superintendent Roy Gill. "With the school reaching its maximum capacity and with continued development in the area, we have to prepare for the future and expand."
The new addition will accommodate the growing student body and also the multiple staff members that might be crammed in one classroom as well.
"Some of our special-ed inclusion teachers are doubled up and in some cases tripled up in the classroom, so the expansion will relieve some of that overcrowding and they will have their own space," said Simmons.
Lisa Rice and her two sons at River Oaks Elementary say it's not hard to tell the school is packed.
"Their desks are a little closer together, and it seems like they are just way more kids in there," said Rice.
Her sons are just two of dozens of new kids who have recently moved to the area, filling the classrooms in the building.
"When we go to our classes, it's a whole lot smaller, so we're a little backed in, and when we have to do special stuff, it's difficult," said Gavin Rice.
School district officials would like to remind everyone that they won't be hiring anyone for new positions after the expansion.