School start meddling

Mississippi appears on the verge of repealing an ill-advised law that prohibited local public school districts from starting the school year before the third Monday in August.

The law, passed in 2012, would have taken effect during the coming school year and would have delayed the start of school until Aug. 18. Schools in northeast Mississippi – and here in New Albany and Union County – have usually started at least a week earlier than that.

What was particularly distasteful was the law was not passed to further public education. It was lobbied through by casino and beach hospitality interests and was designed to promote another week or two of vacation spending because kids would not be in school.

Superintendents complained that the move would interfere with class scheduling, throw first semester exams after the Christmas break, and make it more difficult to complete the school year before Memorial Day.

Jackie Ford, New Albany superintendent, summed it up well: “We’ve always felt like the local district should be the one to set the start date.”

We agree. The Mississippi Legislature should stay out of local school decisions and put its energy into complying with state law requiring more state money to be committed to public schools.