New High Schools To Go Up In Harrison County - - The News for South Mississippi

New High Schools To Go Up In Harrison County

You don't have to be a math wiz to see an Algebra class at D'Iberville High is crowded. Every seat in the history class is filled, so one student has to sit at the teacher's desk.

"We actually have more students now in school at D'Iberville than we had before Katrina last year," said Principal Elmer Mullins.

Mullins has definitely seen the growth spurt over the last eight years.

"We've gone from about 650 up to 950 students," said Mullins. "And we've had construction projects where we've added on to this school and all, and we're just about maxed out right now."

"They're talking about 1,500 apartment complexes in D'Iberville. You're talking apartment complexes in Woolmarket," said Superintendent Henry Arledge as he pointed to a map of future developments in his district.

Arledge says the district needs to prepare now for an expected population explosion.

"If all the subdivisions are built, and people live in homes that are plotted and planned now, we have problems," said Arledge.

Here's how the district plans to solve the problem. Instead of rebuilding the destroyed D'Iberville Middle School, the district will build a new D'Iberville High School between the new Highway 67 and Lamey Bridge Road.

The middle school, housed in portable classrooms for now, will move into the current D'Iberville High.

On the west side of the county, another high school will go up near Landon and County Farm Road.

Harrison Central High School, off Highway 49, will stay open.

Building two new high schools will cost as much as $60 million. The money will come from FEMA, insurance, and the school district. But the district still needs an additional $17 million.

One option is to raise property taxes by two mils. So if your home in Harrison County is worth $100,000, you can expect to pay $20 to $30 more a year.

"They're getting $60 million worth of construction for $17-$18 million," said Arledge. "You could spend it on something else. In this case, we're trying to put it in brick and mortar, something that will be here 40 years from now."

The new high schools should be ready by Fall of 2008, and Principal Elmer Mullins is ready to move in.

"That's a great honor to be the first principal in a brand, new school," said Mullins. "I look forward to that and continued growth and continued excellence in education."

Once the new high schools open, the district will have to study population growth zones and redraw district lines.  Students in the Ninth Grade School will move into the high schools. The Ninth Grade School will be turned into an elementary school.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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