Ocean Springs Schools Grappling With Growing Pains - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ocean Springs Schools Grappling With Growing Pains

Another house will soon join the Pinehurst Subdivision in Jackson County. Nearby, there are signals that another development is about to appear. More families moving into the Ocean Springs School District, means growing pains for Magnolia Park Elementary.

"Ocean Springs is growing to the east," said Magnolia Park Principal Jeanne Lewis. "And with Magnolia Park being the school furthest to the east, we're experiencing a lot of that growth, and we're just about at maximum. We anticipate if nothing changes next year, we won't fit into this building any longer."

"Ocean Springs basically is approaching a crossroads," said Ocean Springs Superintendent Robert Hirsch.

Hirsch says one way to ease the crowded conditions, is transferring some students in the Magnolia school zone to two other elementary schools. Pecan Park and Oak Park have about 300 empty seats.

"We will have to determine, do we redraw some of the these lines? It won't necessarily be a popular idea. No one wants to have to move."

The long-range plan may involve building another elementary school, and a more modern high school, because the current one is also full.

The last time the district built a new school was 12 years ago, when the Middle School went up. The bond issue for the Middle School retires in 2009. If the district wants to build another elementary school or a bigger high school, it may have to take out another bond issue to pay for it.

Before any building can take place, the district must first balance the population at its elementary schools, by the time school starts next summer.

"We're not rushing into it," said Lewis. "We're taking our time. We want to make sure we do what's best for everyone.  But our overall consideration has to be what's best for the students".

Instead of re-drawing district lines, there is another option under consideration. As new subdivisions open up on the east side of the city, the district could require the entire subdivision to move to Oak Park or Pecan Park Elementary Schools.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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