New Mississippi law pushes back school start date
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The days of school starting in early August will soon be over. Tuesday afternoon, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law a bill that pushes back the beginning of school.
Supporters say a delayed start will extend the summer tourism season, which will pump millions into the state's economy. But opponents worry it will create scheduling headaches.
For years, the first week of August meant the end of summer break for public school children in Mississippi. Under a new state law, school can only start on or after the third Monday in August. The law goes into effect in the 2014-1015 school year.
Harrison County's schools superintendent doesn't see much of a problem with pushing back the start of school.
"It'll be a lot of changing test dates and things from the state Education Department, as well as the local school district, but we can adjust to it. It'll be fine," said Henry Arledge, Harrison County Schools Superintendent.
But Pascagoula's schools superintendent said it will be a big adjustment, especially for schools on a block schedule. Wayne Rodolfich said shifting the school calendar means school districts must decide whether to push the end of the first semester from December into January, or shorten the holidays. And if school lets out in mid-June, it could affect teachers as well.
"I do have teachers who attend college in the summer, summer classes in the beginning of June. We have Junior Colleges, children begin in January," Wayne Rodolfich, Pascagoula Schools Superintendent. "I just wish there would have been more thought put into what are the impacts on our schools in Mississippi."
The Gulf Coast Business Council said 84 percent of Mississippians support a later school start date. The council said extending the summer tourism season would generate more than $100 million in revenues every year and create at least 1,500 tourism-related jobs. The council also said schools could save on air conditioning costs and reduce the health risks for children who have to ride on hot school buses.
"I don't think there'll be a lot of impact other than testing, personally, but we're ready to go, willing to try it," said Arledge.
Again, the new start date goes into effect beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. The law does not apply to the Mississippi School for the Blind and the Mississippi School for the Deaf.
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