Leetown school site approved

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Leetown community will get a new elementary school in 2008, as the Hancock County School Board took the first steps in an estimated $14 million project Thursday night by approving a 640-acre site on Mississippi 43 close to the Pearl River County line.

The school will be capable of accommodating 750 students from kindergarden to fifth grades.

The school will be a mirror image of the new school the board plans to build at the site of Gulfview Elementary in Lakeshore.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In November, the board voted to accept the former Gulfview site as the location for another elementary school, which will combine Gulfview and Charles B. Murphy Elementary.

“Both schools will be identical, except for the site work,” Taylor Guild, the arcitect for the board said. “Our intention is to have both schools completed in the mid-summer of 2008, and ready to move in.”

The site chosen for the new school is on district-owned 16th section land, Guild said. It is divided by Leetown Road. The school will sit at least 600 feet back from Miss. 43 and there may be an entrance from Leetown Rd, he said.

Board President Morgan Ladner said the new school is necessary because of the rapid growth in the north and west parts of Hancock County.

He said he recently attended a meeting where he learned that experts are predicting the Leetown area to be the center of growth in Hancock County over the next 30 years.

He said the new school will help, but it still may not suit the needs for the county.

“The day it opens it is going to be overcrowded,” he said.

He said there are currently about 900 students in that area who attend county schools.

Guild said he hopes to have the projects advertised by March, and once bids are received and awarded, construction will begin.

“We are fast-tracking this to get it bid by March,” he said.

The price of the two schools is estimated to be $28 million.

Guild said that post-Katrina pricing for construction is running about $165 per square foot. The East Hancock Elementary School built less than five years ago cost the district only about $85 per square foot, he said.

The two new schools will be paid for by a combination of insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, and tax dollars, officials said.