Senate Bill 2361
As introduced, would have established the Mississippi Modified School Calendar Grant Program; as amended, would establish the Released-Time Moral Instruction Act.
Dennis DeBar, Jr.
Conferees failed to file a conference report for SB 2361 by the March 27 deadline, causing this bill to die in conference.
Explanation of the Bill
As introduced, Senate Bill 2361 would establish the Mississippi Modified School Calendar Grant Program, through which school districts could apply for funds to cover the initial costs of implementing a modified (“year-round”) school calendar. Under this type of calendar, the traditional summer break would be shortened and replaced with shorter, more frequent intercessions evenly dispersed throughout the calendar year. The length of the school year (180 days) would not change. However, schools could choose to offer remediation or enrichment activities for students during intercessions.
The stated purpose of SB 2361 is to incentivize school districts to maintain or adopt a modified calendar. There are a handful of school districts throughout the state that have made this transition in recent years, including Corinth, Laurel, Simpson County, Lamar County, Starkville, and Gulfport. The small number of participating districts (and the short period of time in which they have operated under a modified calendar) make it difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the model, but district leaders have indicated satisfaction with it.
SB 2167 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. It is awaiting further action.
School District Eligibility and Use of Funds
Any school district planning to implement a modified calendar during the 2023-2024 school year would be eligible to apply for funds through the Mississippi Modified School Calendar Grant Program. SB 2361 cites several potential uses for the funds, including staffing during school intercessions; remediation and enrichment programs during school intercessions; and additional utilities or transportation costs associated with the modified calendar. Districts could not use the funds to purchase land, construct new facilities, or satisfy existing debt.
An eligible district could receive up to $200,000 per year for a maximum of three years. The size of a district’s award would be based on its proposed budget and calendar, its number of students, and other cost-related factors (such as the rural nature of the district).
Administration of Program
As the agency in charge of the program, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) would be responsible for developing and implementing its procedures. This would include creating the application that districts would use to apply for the grant, which would be required to include:
- The district’s rationale for adopting a modified calendar
- Ways in which a modified calendar could help the district accomplish its short- and long-term goals
- A detailed budget of operating expenses that could be expected as a result of transitioning to a modified calendar
- A detailed calendar that includes plans for activities during school intercessions
MDE would grant funds to districts by July 1 of each year. The agency would be required to provide an annual report on the use of program funds to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, and chairs of the Senate and House Appropriations and Education committees by October 1 of each year.
SB 2361 would establish the Mississippi Modified School Calendar Grant Fund within the State Treasury to fund the Mississippi Modified School Calendar Grant Program. The bill does not specify an appropriation amount for this fund.
(Please note that the current version of the bill, as amended by the House Education Committee, no longer contains these provisions.)
|1/16/23||On January 16, SB 2361 was referred to the Senate Education Committee.|
|1/31/23||On January 31, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 2361.|
|2/7/23||On February 7, the Senate passed SB 2361.|
|2/21/23||On February 21, SB 2361 was referred to the House Education Committee|
|2/28/23||On February 28, the House Education Committee passed a “strike-all” amendment to SB 2361 that removed any mention of the Mississippi Modified School Calendar Grant Program. As amended, SB 2361 is identical to the amended version of House Bill 1373 (the Released Time Moral Instruction Act of 2023), which allows students to be excused from school to receive “moral instruction.”|
|3/7/23||On March 7, the House passed the amended version of SB 2361. The bill will now return to the Senate for concurrence.|
|3/23/23||On March 23, the Senate invited conference on SB 2361. Senate conferees include Dennis DeBar, John Polk, and Briggs Hopson. House conferees include Richard Bennet, Kent McCarty, and Rob Roberson.|
|3/27/23||Conferees failed to file a conference report for SB 2361 by the March 27 deadline, causing this bill to die in conference.|