Schools not required to make up day missed for tornado

news_education_greenBy Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo and Lee County school districts will not have to make up the day of school missed on April 29, the day after a tornado struck the city and county.

The State Board of Education granted the districts a waiver during a special-called meeting on Thursday afternoon. The extra days missed by Saltillo, Guntown and Joyner schools also will not need to be replaced. That means the final day of school for both districts remains Friday, May 23.

“I am an adamant supporter that students ought to go to school 180 days a year, and I support schools building makeup days into their calendars,” said Wayne Gann, chairman of the State Board. “I have held fast to that position.

“However, in this case, it was so late in the year and with state tests ongoing, the only time would be to add it on a Saturday or to add time after Memorial Day, and that wasn’t practicable.”

The waiver included several school districts, including some that dismissed early on Monday because of the threat of severe weather. Gann said most of the schools granted the waiver also have more than the minimum required minutes in their regular school day.

The board unanimously approved the waiver.

“A lot of those students didn’t have a home to go to and still may not,” Gann said. “It wasn’t practicable to make them make it up this late in the year.”

Both the Tupelo and Lee County districts were out of the school on the day after the tornado. In addition, Saltillo and Guntown schools were out on April 30 because they lacked power.

Tupelo’s Joyner Elementary, meanwhile, suffered damage from the tornado and was closed until Monday.

Gann said the Board considered the fact that the districts made a “good faith effort” to open the schools they could and go the required amount of time.

The final day for Lee County teachers will be May 27. Tupelo teachers will have to attend two days of the district’s May Institute training between May 27-30.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com