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OSD approves shortening school calendar by one day due to snow

While the State Board of Education reviews plans for altering the school calendar for all Mississippi schools affected by last week’s winter storms that caused dangerous road conditions in many counties, including Lafayette, the Oxford School Board approved shortening the academic calendar to 179 days on Monday during its regular meeting.

Local school boards were granted the authority in recent years to shorten the academic calendars when it’s not feasible to meet the required 180 days of school after schools are forced to close due to unsafe road conditions.

Schools in Oxford closed for four days due to icy roads on Jan. 12 and on Jan. 16-18. The board decided students would make up three of the four days on April 2, May 25 and possibly Feb. 19. Apr. 2 is the Monday after Easter. Friday, May 25 is the day of Oxford High’s graduation and is currently slated on the school calendar for teacher inservice training.

The board also approved providing administrative pay for all employees for one of the days missed.

“We will discuss those plans Tuesday and will announce further makeup plans by the end of the week,” said Superintendent Brian Harvey on Monday evening after the meeting.

Schools can shorten the school year by 10 days before being subject to possibly losing funding.

“However, I believe we should be in school when we can be for as many days as possible,” Harvey said at the meeting.

Harvey defended his decision to close the school, despite some complaints from parents.

“Whenever there’s potential for snow, myself and others in the district divide up the streets and ride down almost every road,” Harvey said. “We make a determination whether it’s safe to send kids to school. Some areas in the city simply were not passable for cars or buses. On Thursday, I realized some streets might have been fine, but if we can’t get all our students and employees to school safely then we don’t need to have school.”

Board member Gray Edmondson said not everyone was unhappy with the decision to close school for four days.

“You might not have made everyone happy but if you ask my kids, they were very happy,” he joked.

The board also briefly discussed looking at the start date for the 2018-2019 school year, which is slated to start on Aug. 6.

“I’ve had complaints from some parents that it’s just too early and will affect their summer plans,” said board member Ray Hill III.

Harvey said the school district needs to have its start date coordinated with Lafayette County School of Applied Technology so that students who attend the trade school aren’t missing classes.

“If we changed it to Aug. 8 or 9, those days would have to be made up somehow,” Harvey said.

The board decided to look at some possible options for moving days around and tabled the discussion for the next board meeting.