More than half of students return to classroom

Biloxi Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Tisdale said he was encouraged to see that more than half of the students enrolled before Hurricane Katrina were back in school today, the first day of class since the storm struck Aug. 29.

A total of 3,167 students attended this morning, compared to 6,125 enrolled before the storm.

“I’d been hoping that at least half of the registered students would be in class for the first day,” Tisdale said this evening. “My thought was that if we had half the kids here, it would be a good indication of this community’s commitment to education.

“I mean, we’re talking half of the kids in class less than a month after this community was struck by the largest natural disaster ever to befall this country. That’s a testimony to the value that parents place on education in our community.”

School resumed without two of the district’s newest schools, Gorenflo and Nichol s elementary schools, which suffered several feet of water and millions of dollars in damage. Neither of the two-year-old schools is expected to re-open before the end of this school year, Tisdale said, adding that a power outage at Beauvoir Elementary School today failed to deter classes at that west Biloxi school.

“I think once temporary housing is established, we’re going to see more of the kids back in school,” Tisdale predicted. “I know that there are also a number of our military dependents who have not yet returned, as well. We look for them to be back once habitable dwellings are found for them.”

Tisdale said some schedules and bus routes have been altered as a result of the storm, but he was proud of the work of school staff and the effort made by parents to see that their children were back in school.

Said the superintendent: “Someone once said that communities cannot rebuild until schools begin”; I tend to agree. The first part of a re-birth in community stems from school being back in session, and I’m very appreciative of the effort by parents, students, and staff to make this happen.”

To read more about Biloxi public schools, visit the district’s web site at