By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Carver Elementary will use seven portable units next year to help it accommodate students from its merger with Church Street Elementary.
The seven units, which will be placed in the lower area between Carver’s main building and the school’s gymnasium, will each have two classrooms. That will give Carver a total of 14 portable classrooms, which will allow the school to maintain a 15-to-one student-teacher ratio for its expected enrollment of 440 students next year.
Tupelo’s school board had approved the merger of the two kindergarten to second-grade schools in March, knowing it would need a few extra classrooms to accommodate the smaller class size the district prefers in its lower elementary schools.
The district had considered a plan that would have built 10 temporary classrooms in the school’s gym and used other spaces in its building. However, the school board voted at its meeting on Wednesday to maintain the gym as is and use the modular classrooms.
They will cost $435,000 for three years. The TPSD has said that it will find a more permanent solution beyond three years.
“With the 14 additional classrooms, the district will be able to fulfill its goal of a 15-to-one ratio and keep its art and music classrooms, as well as the gym and the existing computer lab,” Interim Superintendent David Meadows said.
The vote came after current Carver Principal Brenda Robinson assured the board that she had full confidence in the safety of the modular classrooms. Robinson said students would be able to get from the trailers into the basement of the main building in about a minute, if severe weather struck. Meadows said he had also spoken with the school’s two previous principals, Kim Britton and Larry Harmon, and they each agreed.
Robinson also said Carver’s gym had a special meaning for the community and that it would be important to school spirit for the students to have a gym where everyone could gather at one time.
The school district decided to merge the two schools because they were by far the two smallest in the district. Both schools feed into Lawhon Elementary for third to fifth grade. By combining the schools, the district said, it would be able to provide better services for the students there.
The school district has not yet said how it will use the Church Street facility, but has said that it will find a use for the historic building. To proceed with the portable classrooms, the district will need the City Council to approve a variance for the modular units.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.