Dennis DeBar, Jr.
Passed Senate committee(s); awaiting Senate floor action
On January 31, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 2361. The bill is now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.
Explanation of the Bill
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
The beginning of SB 2361 states that the Department of Health would administer the grant program. We assume this is a mistake, as the remainder of the bill consistently states that the Department of Education would have this responsibility.
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.
|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.|