JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant hasn’t decided whether to sign a bill that would erase a school calendar law he signed two years ago, a top aide said Thursday.
“If the Legislature’s intent is to revisit something they had already agreed upon, he will review whatever they ultimately send him,” Bryant spokeswoman Nicole Webb said in an email to The Associated Press.
She was responding to a question after the House on Thursday removed a procedural block from Senate Bill 2571. The bill will go to Bryant in the next several days, then he’ll have five days to decide whether to sign or veto it.
It proposes repealing a law that says schools can start no earlier than the third Monday in August. The law was enacted in 2012, with Bryant’s signature, and the later start date is set to take effect for the first time during the upcoming school year.
Gulf Coast tourism officials pushed for the later date, saying it would provide an economic boost by giving families more vacation time in August. Most schools have been starting in early to mid-August.
House Education Committee Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon, said superintendents pushed legislators to keep the start date as a local decision.
Many school districts are in the process of setting their 2014-15 academic calendars. Pete Smith, legislative liaison for the state Department of Education, said Thursday that the department has received numerous calls from local superintendents wanting to know whether the later school start date will be repealed.
The department has not kept track of how many districts have already set the calendar or how many would be prepared to alter a calendar that a local school board has already adopted, Smith said.
Mississippi requires schools to have 180 days of instruction each academic year, and a later start date could push the end of the first semester past Christmas break. Some administrators have said that could cause problems with exams.
Supporters of the later start date say that because of heat and humidity in early August, a later start to the academic year would help protect students who have football practice, band practice and other outdoor activities.