Schools Open in Bay St. Louis

JACKSON, Miss., Students from Mississippi’s Gulf Coast returned to school Nov. 7 and stepped into new modular classrooms, thanks to the collaborative efforts of local and state officials, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

According to a FEMA statement, while the process for providing the temporary classrooms involves numerous phases, the USACE has been working quickly to fill the requests of the Mississippi Department of Education. Of the 466 requested classroom units, 324 have been delivered and 188 have been installed and made ready for occupancy. More than 300 schools in the state were damaged or destroyed after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast Aug. 29.

The modular classrooms are constructed with wood frames, insulation and aluminum siding. Small classroom units hold up to 30 students, while the larger units are designed to accommodate up to 60. Each classroom includes whiteboards and bulletin boards as well as carpeting, windows, air conditioning and heat. Units for elementary grades have restrooms, and some have wood ramps and decks. The cost of each new temporary classroom is approximately $117,000, which includes the cost of the trailer, delivery, site preparation, utilities, walkways and parking areas.

Twenty-six cities will receive the temporary classrooms. These include: Biloxi, Brooklyn, Bay St. Louis, Carriere, Crystal Springs, D’Iberville, Gautier, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Heidelberg, Kiln, Long Beach, Moss Point, New Augusta, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Picayune, Poplarville, Purvis, Saucier, Stringer, Sumrall, Waveland, Wesson and Vancleave.

The Mississippi Department of Education is in the process of determining the total estimated cost of rebuilding and repairing the damaged schools left in the wake of Katrina.

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