House passes school bill

         

State Rep. Mark Formby, District 108, Pearl River, Republican
           
State Rep. Brandon Jones, District 111, Jackson – Democrat

The state House has passed a bill that would push back the school start date to Sept. 1 or later — a measure supported by Coast tourism officials who say they are losing money because schools have started convening earlier in the year.

Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, offered an amendment to House Bill 624 to mandate that schools start no sooner than Sept. 1 . It passed the House in a 65-54 vote and will now head to the Senate. The amendment also gives the state Board of Education the power to establish the minimum number of school days. Currently, the state requires a minimum of 180 days of instruction.

The bill would not apply to the Mississippi School for the Blind and the Mississippi School for the Deaf.

Members of the Gulf Coast Business Council have been pushing the later date.

Woody Bailey of the GCBC was in Jackson meeting with senators about the bill. He said it’s a needed change because tourism-related businesses are suffering since schools typically start in early August.

“What has happened is that the summertime has basically gone away for the children and businesses throughout the state,” Bailey said.

Bailey said parents begin preparations for the school year in mid-July.

The Associated Press reported this week that House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, and the School Boards and Superintendents associations oppose the later date.

Rep. Brandon Jones, D-Pascagoula, a member of the House Education Committee, voted against the amendment.

Jones said the majority of teachers, superintendents and parents he talked to about the bill were opposed to it because of how it could affect their school holidays, as well as some sports and education programs.

“For me, that’s really the plumb line — where the educators are on these issues and how it’s going to impact the kids,” Jones said.

  • PDF: Amendment to the school start time bill
  • PDF: School start date study
  • By MICHAEL NEWSOM – mmnewsom @sunherald.com
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