Pledge of Allegiance said at board meeting

Horn Lake Elementary School first-grader Brennan Williams was asked to lead the DeSoto County School District Board of Education meeting in the Pledge of Allegiance on Monday, Feb. 6. Students from around the district are routinely asked to lead the board meeting in the pledge.  

Bob Bakken|DTT

Parents of students in the DeSoto County School District (DCS) can start making school vacation plans for next school year. It may be best to put them down in pencil for now, just in case.

Members of the DCS Board of Education Monday night approved a tentative school calendar for the 2017-18 school year. The calendar was built around a 180-day school year, as currently is mandated by state law.

However, school officials pointed out that potential action in the Mississippi State Legislature may have an effect on the calendar. That’s because there is a move afoot in the Legislature to possibly reduce the school year down to 170 days, according to Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Weeks, who presented the calendar proposal to the school board.

“There’s a bill that made it out of committee that would reduce the school year to 170 days from 180 days,” Weeks said. “There has not been a final vote on that. We’re going to go ahead and post our calendar as a tentative calendar. If that change is made, we don’t think it will affect vacations for parents and they can start making their plans. It would just make us start school later or end school earlier.”

Under the tentative calendar, teachers would report for the new year on Aug. 1 and students would report to class for the first time two days later, on Aug. 3.

Thanksgiving break would be the week of Nov. 20 and Christmas break in the upcoming school year would be from Dec. 18-Jan. 1, 2018.

Teachers would return to their classrooms on Jan. 2 and students would report back two days later, on Jan. 4. Weeks said that would allow for two professional development days ahead of a return to classes for teachers, who could also use the time to meet with parents, if desired.

“This year the teachers did not have any professional development days at the beginning of the second semester and that was one of the things that they had requested,” Weeks said. “The state kindergarten handbook has changed so they now have a required kindergarten conference in both the first semester and the second semester and teachers felt that this would provide a great opportunity to meet with parents and talk about goals for the upcoming semester. It’s not a requirement they must do that but the teachers felt it would be beneficial.”

Two-thirds of the schools in DCS favored the approved option when it was presented to them, a plan that was presented through the district’s Teacher Advisory Council, Weeks said.

“We presented several options to them and after looking at those options, they narrowed it down to two,” Weeks said. “We then surveyed all of our schools and received feedback and that’s what drove the calendar, the feedback from the Teacher Advisory Council and that’s something (Supt.) Mr. Uselton has put in this year.”

As far as the bill addressing the length of the school year is concerned, Weeks said any changes should not affect vacation days.

“If that law is changed we’ll make adjustments as we are required to do,” Weeks said. “We just want to go ahead and let people plan.”

The tentative calendar has been posted on the district’s website, www.desotocountyschools.org.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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