Mississippi school districts likely to choose own start dates

Mississippi school districts are likely to regain the authority to decide when their school year starts after a House vote on Tuesday.

A bill including language to allow districts to set their own first day of school appears headed to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant. That’s good news for many school district superintendents, who say legislation that was set to kick in this fall that says school can’t start before the third Monday in August would push classes into June or very late May. The late start also would throw out of kilter both students’ semester exam schedules and see the first semester ending well into January, they say.

In 2012, the Legislature passed a law, championed by casinos and other state tourism interests, to push the start of school back. The Senate recently amended another education bill to give start-date authority back to school districts. House leaders, including Education Chairman John Moore, supported the later start date and opposed the Senate move, stripping the amendment from SB 2571 in committee.

But on Tuesday, Moore “re-amended” the amended bill, adding the Senate’s proposal back to allow districts to choose their start dates.

Moore said he still supports the later start, but that many House members and “an enormous amount in the Senate” wanted to repeal the late start measure.

Clarion Ledger
3/11/14