Harrison Co. school board members react to newsletter from Mayor Gilich

The Harrison County school bond referendum has turned into a war of words on social media.
The Harrison County school bond referendum has turned into a war of words on social media.(WLOX)
Updated: Nov. 2, 2018 at 3:34 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Harrison County school bond referendum has turned into a war of words on social media.

The newest posts come from school board members Bill Bradley and Rena Wiggins. Both board members took exception to a newsletter produced by Biloxi and a message in that newsletter from the city’s mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich.

Bill Bradley doesn’t hold back, firing shots at leaders in both Biloxi and Gulfport.

“I for one have no trust in either set of administrators,” he writes. The mayors of both cities wrote an op/ed piece this week and posted it on Facebook.

Thursday, Biloxi released a message from Mayor Gilich. “Ask questions and decide what’s right for you and your finances,” Gilich said in that letter.

The mayors of both Biloxi and Gulfport say it’s time for city students to attend city schools, and the mayors believe the three school boards, the cities and the county should sit down and discuss the makeup of their districts going forward.

Harrison County school board member Bill Bradley says that’s not necessary.

“In order to go to a negotiation table there has to be trust on both sides,” he wrote Thursday night.

Bradley’s post also refers to a previous attempt to adjust school district boundaries.

“Two years ago the mayors of both cities, Gulfport and Biloxi tried to slip a bill in to take our students without us even knowing. It was caught and shut down!”

WLOX News Now found that bill in the legislature’s bill status archives. The bill was House Bill 947. It was written in 2016 “for the alteration of school district boundaries”. If it became law, it would have allowed communities “to reorganize, change or alter the boundaries of any such district” as long as all districts involved agreed to the changes. Whether Biloxi and Gulfport had a role in the introduction of House Bill 947 isn’t known. What is known is that bill died in the education committee.

School Board member Rena Wiggins also posted comment on the WLOX Facebook page Thursday. She questioned Mayor Gilich’s statement that “school district lines can be changed by agreement of the school boards of adjacent districts.”

Wiggins wrote, “Look it up that is not at all what the law says. This is a straight up disinformation campaign! Shame on you.”

People who live within the Harrison County school district are the only residents who vote Tuesday on the $55 million bond. The bond needs 60 percent support for it to pass. If it passes, two new schools will be built. North Gulfport will be redesigned into a K-8 campus, and security improvements will be made across the district.

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