School calendar hinges on new law

news_education_greenBy Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo students will begin school two weeks earlier than originally planned this August if the governor signs a repeal of a 2012 law preventing them from doing so.

That law, which goes into effect this summer, prohibits schools from opening before the third Monday in August. A bill repealing it passed both chambers of the Legislature and awaits Gov. Phil Bryant’s approval.

If it is signed, Tupelo will begin school on Aug. 4, as the district’s school board passed a revised calendar on Tuesday, contingent on the fate of Senate Bill 2571. If it does not become law, the district will use the calendar it passed last month and would start classes on Aug. 18.

Tupelo would be at an advantage to start early if allowed, Superintendent Gearl Loden said, noting it would provide more days of teaching before state tests. Also, the new calendar would place first-semester exams before Christmas break, something it could not do with the later start.

Loden said he wanted to have the new calendar ready quickly so parents would know the dates for school as soon as the fate of the state bill is finalized.

Both proposed calendars have holidays for Labor Day (Sept. 1), Columbus Day (Oct. 13), Thanksgiving (Nov. 24-28), Christmas (Dec. 19-Jan. 5), Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 19), spring break (March 9-13) and Easter (April 3-6).

The calendar approved Tuesday also would observe a holiday on Presidents Day, Feb. 16. Graduation would be May 15 and the final day of school would be May 20.

Teachers would report on July 28 and would attend three days of the TPSD Institute between May 21 and 27.

If districts are not allowed to start earlier, new Tupelo teachers would report on Aug. 1 and all teachers would attend one day of training between Aug. 5-8. Staff would then report on Aug. 11.

Graduation would be May 29 and the school year would end on June 3.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com