GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – George County students could start school in July for the 2024 school year if the board of education moves forward with the proposal.

In a school board meeting on Tuesday, March 7, superintendent Wade Whitney told board members the district was in the early stage of considering the modified calendar after soliciting feedback from district staff.

The staff survey results were provided to school board members but not widely released to the district as of early Thursday morning. Whitney characterized the results on Tuesday as being “overwhelmingly” supportive of the new calendar.

The overview of the calendar as shared in the meeting would begin the school year in the third week of July and end the same time as the current schedule, typically the week prior to Memorial Day in May.

After the first nine-week quarter, students and staff would get a two-week break in early to mid- September. The first week would have no instruction while tutoring would be offered the second week.

“The second week of intercession will be for those students who need additional support in specific subject areas. The local school would determine who those students are. Teachers will be given an opportunity to volunteer to teach at that time for an additional stipend or [at their] hourly pay rate,” Whitney said.

The week off for Thanksgiving and roughly two-week student break over Christmas and New Year’s Day would be similar, Whitney said.

Intersession after the third quarter would be similar to the current spring break in mid-March with a second week added on either side to allow for the week of tutoring.

The school year would end after the fourth quarter in late May with a summer break for students through all of June and the first two weeks of July.

Once the staff survey results are reviewed, Whitney said district administrators will start to discuss the proposal with daycare centers and the county Head Start.

“We’re going to engage civic groups. We’re going to engage public surveys and those types of things to get other people’s input. Then once all of the data is here, then we’ll make a decision for our school district with what we think is best,” Whitney said.

No timeline was shared for when a recommendation will be given to the school board. The board approved the calendar for the 2023-2024 school year last month. It included few changes from the current school year with the first day of class on Thursday, August 4 and last day on Thursday, May 23.

Top state lawmakers are working to incentivize school districts to adopt a modified calendar through a grant program.

“We are going to push for a modified calendar in Mississippi,” Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said in December. “We don’t always need to do things the way they were always done. And that has handicapped us.”

Senate Bill 2361, introduced by State Sen. Dennis DeBar (R- Leakesville), would give districts up to $200,000 per year for three years to recoup costs associated with the schedule switch. Those could include staffing and implementing remediation programs during intercessions and additional utility or transportation costs.

It passed in the Senate by a 49-3 vote in February. An amended version passed in the House on Tuesday with no opposition. The chambers will work out the differences in the legislation for a final version to be taken up by the end of the month.

In a November press conference after being appointed to the role, State Superintendent Robert Taylor echoed support for the modified calendar and grant program.

“By going to a year-round calendar, I think every district or school that participates in that will see a benefit,” Taylor said. “Anything that we can do to shorten the amount of time that students are out, I think, that’s great. If the Lieutenant Governor believes this is a program that we can do to incentivize districts to participate, I think that’s absolutely wonderful.”

To George County’s south, the Pascagoula-Gautier School District is the latest in the state to adopt a modified calendar. Board members approved the 2023-2024 calendar in January with students scheduled to return on July 20.