Governor gets bill that would repeal later school start in MS

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi public school students are waiting to find out how long their summer vacation will last. The state legislature had first agreed to push back the start date for schools starting next year, but then lawmakers voted to repeal that law. The new bill is now sitting on the governor's desk.

Across the state, parents send their children to public schools hoping they'll get a good education. Some Biloxi High students say that's just what they're getting. The Biloxi school district ranks third in the state behind Pass Christian and Clinton.

"Our teachers are some of the most nurturing teachers,"said Sarah Grammar, a high school senior who will attend Harvard University in the fall. "They really help you, they really reach out and see what they can do to make sure you're a successful student."

At first the state legislature agreed students would head back to class next year no earlier than the third week of August. Then lawmakers voted to repeal that law. Biloxi's school superintendent would like to see the decision left to individual school districts.

"It would be like here on the coast if someone told us what we couldn't do Mardi Gras because we set a schedule, or not giving the flexibility to take days. If you get further north, and not very far, they don't participate in those things. They have other things in other parts of the state that they participate in," said Biloxi Schools Superintendent Arthur McMillan. "It gives us the flexibility to adjust our schedules, if we don't have a set date, to what best fits our students and staff and parents."

The Gulf Coast Business Council lobbied for years to push back the start date to help the local economy.

"Multiple states have successfully implemented later August start dates with positive economic impact and no adverse impact on educational achievement," said GCBC President Jack Norris. "There is no reason for the school calendar to unnecessarily hurt the economy. Health and safety of exposing kids to extracurricular activities and un-air conditioned school buses in the hottest month of the year should also be a consideration."

Biloxi's school superintendent said whatever the final decision, districts will make the best of it. The bill to repeal the later school date is now in the hands of Governor Bryant. No word yet on whether he plans to sign it.

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