Bill 2571 awaiting Bryant’s signature

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Students, faculty and administrators of Pearl River County school districts may not have to worry about issues involved with school starting later in the year if Senate Bill 2571 is signed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

The bill passes through the House of Representatives and the Senate, now all that is needed is a signature from Gov. Phil Bryant for the bill to become law.

Knox Graham, deputy communications director for Gov. Bryant’s office, said on Monday that the governor’s office has yet to receive the bill.

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Graham said once the governor receives the bill, he would have five days to make a decision.

The bill could repeal a 2012 law that requires school districts start no earlier than the third Monday in August beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

Local superintendents are concerned about the consequences of pushing the school start date back by almost two weeks, which would have the first semester ending after students return from the Christmas holidays.

Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said he would rather students take midterm exams before leaving for their two-week Christmas holiday.

Picayune Municipal School District Superintendent Dean Shaw said he is concerned how the school district’s calendar would conflict with the Pearl River Community College semester as a result of the schedule change, since the school district has students who are dual enrolled.

The bill passed the House on March 11 with a 111 to 4 vote, with local representatives Mark Formby voting against the bill and Herb Frierson voting for the bill.

The bill passed the Senate with a 49-1 vote on February 12 with local senators Angela Hill and Tony Smith voting for the bill.

The Mississippi Department of Education requires schools to have 180 days of instruction each academic year with each semester lasting 90 days.

The Pearl River County School District board passed the 2014-15 academic calendar at the March 6 meeting, but if the law were repealed, the academic calendar would be re-evaluated.

“We would go back and review the school calendar for the upcoming school year if it is repealed,” Lumpkin said.

Picayune School District Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the administration will wait until Gov. Bryant makes a decision on the bill before making a recommendation to the board.