Among the influx of Hurricane Katrina refugees from Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast are school-aged children, some of whom are seeking enrollment in local schools.
North Panola School District Superintendent Robert Massey said last week that his district is beginning to accept some of these students, and that the school district is sponsoring a collection effort for food and clothing items for those remaining in shelters and the affected areas.
"We feel like our students can really help those less fortunate by collecting items they can send to those who are in need," he said.
In addition, the district can help by finding places for the evacuees in local classrooms, Massey said.
"It’s easy to understand that there are a lot of students out there that will be with us for a while as their schools are repaired or rebuilt," Massey said. "North Panola wants to do whatever it can to make sure those students receive the best education possible."
Massey said he had spoken with several parents last Thursday who were looking for schools for their children, but added he wasn’t sure just how many new students would enter the district.
"I would say right now we will have less than 20 new students as a result of the hurricane," he said. "But as more and more people come this way, we could see an increase."
Massey said the most affected school in the district could be Green Hill Elementary.
"Most of the people who are looking for schools have elementary-aged children," he said. "The staff in the district office have been directing those parents to Green Hill."
Massey echoed similar sentiments expressed by his South Panola counterpart Dr. Keith Shaffer, saying if a need for new teachers and staff arose, the district will look at the matter seriously.
"We are going to do whatever we have to do to accommodate the potential new students in the North Panola School District," he said.