By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
The Mississippi House has amended a bill to require that local school districts not start classes before Sept. 1. Gulf Coast legislators supported the proposal because it would extend the tourism season and bring in more revenue and state tax dollars. Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, also said a later start could save schools money on electricity because it is not as hot in May and June as it is in August.
Daily Journal education reporter Chris Kieffer asked Lee County Schools Superintendent Mike Scott about the impact of the law on his and other districts that start in early August.
Q: Would a later start to the year save schools money?
A:I don’t see where it would save money anywhere. Everyone will still go the same number of school days whether they start in August or start in September. Last year, June was as warm or warmer than August. That changes so much. We’re guessing at nature. I don’t see any benefit in it.
As an old football coach, I remember times in May when it was as hot or hotter as it was for pre-season practice.
Q:What would be the disadvantages of a later start date?
A:To us on the block schedule, we have to have 90 days in the first semester and 90 days in the second. By doing this, our kids on the first semester block may be coming back and taking exams after a two-week break for Christmas. They might also be taking state tests after two weeks of Christmas vacation, and that is not educationally sound.
Q:Should there be a uniform start date for schools?
A:There should not be a uniform start date. One thing to consider would be how different districts set up their professional development days. Tupelo may have professional development days all at the beginning of the school year, and Lee County may have them spread all throughout the year. That’s just an example.
It gets back to what the purpose of local control is. Schools are supposed to be governed locally by school boards. Each community will have different ideas about things.