Gautier & Beach Elementary Schools Will Rebuild

Behind a barrier of barbed wire is Beach Elementary - a school that has been a part of life in South Pascagoula for decades. It's been vacant since Katrina. But now, each shovel full of old tile is bringing the school closer to repair.

Parent Richard Torjusen can hardly wait until his children can come back to Beach Elementary.

"We're real excited that they're putting it back together. I think it's a major step for the development of Pascagoula," Torjusen says.

Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich says cleanup is right on schedule at both Beach and Gautier Elementary Schools.

"The next thing, I think, is to put the door frames in, the floorings have to be replaced, the ceilings have to be replaced. The buildings are basically going to be completely emptied, then rebuilt from within," Rodolfich says.

Renovating both schools is a big task with a big price tag - $4 million. Thanks to insurance money and FEMA grants, the school district can count on a final bill of about $1.5 million.

"It's a very good deal when you figure the cost of putting schools back together today," Rodolfich says.

Contractors say the demolition process will last another two weeks. And at that rate, school should be back in session this fall. That will be a first day of school Torjusen and his son Hunter won't ever forget.

"It makes us feel great. We've still all got our signs up that say 'Save Beach School.' We'll probably have signs when it's done that say 'Thank you Very Much.' We're just real excited," Torjusen says.

Rodolfich says this renovation work is just part of a bigger improvement plan for the whole district. The goal is to have all schools in the Pascagoula School District repaired by Fall 2007.