Many Ocean Springs children will begin the next school year at a new school. Massive growth in the eastern part of the city has caused one elementary school to reach near capacity.
With a three to one vote Tuesday night, Ocean Springs school board members decided to try a new approach to the overcrowding problem at Magnolia Park Elementary.
"Magnolia Park is full. It basically has just a little over 800 students right now, has a maximum capacity of 900. That's if every class is full, and every classroom is full. Which is not a good situation," Ocean Springs School District superintendent Robert Hirsch says.
Crowded school hallways mimic the crowded streets on the east side of Ocean Springs. School Board members say that growth is one of the biggest factors in Tuesday night's decision.
"The town has continued to grow, and Magnolia Park has continued to fill up," Hirsch says.
Thanks to the new zoning, officials say the schools will be equal in many ways.
"We're not talking about schools with different education, academic, art or athletics. We're talking about places that deliver the same product," school board member Karen Whitley says.
Board member John Brenke was the lone board member who voted against the plan. He says he'd like to see a new elementary school built to alleviate the crowds. But Superintendent Robert Hirsh says shifting the lines will help shift these students to better school conditions.
"We have the facilities, we have the seating capacity, we just need to move the population," Hirsch says.
Hirsch promises that the school district will make every effort to accommodate children as they transition to different schools, such as placing neighborhoods of children in the same classroom to keep them with familiar faces.