Budget constraints could shorten school year - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Budget constraints could shorten school year

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi students could be sitting in the classroom five fewer days for 2011-12 school years if the Mississippi House of Representatives agrees to the state senate's proposal.

"It's not perfect. To be honest, I hate that I even have to be talking about something like this with you," said Senator Videt Carmichael, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Teachers could also see furloughs to save the state and individual school districts money.

House education chairman Cecil Brown said the House will strongly consider the furloughs but will probably bypass cutting days.

"I think it's unfortunate that something like this has to happen. It's inevitable, but I think it's better to be furloughed than lose your job," said Rep. Brown.

Lawmakers like Senator David Blount strongly disagreed with this approach saying it sends the wrong message.

"The last thing we should do is cut the number of days our children go to school," said Senator Blount.

Meanwhile, State Superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham released a statement Thursday:

"I cannot support reducing the number of instructional days in any way.  Research shows that the two most important factors in student achievement are the quality of the teacher in the classroom and time on task.  Mississippi is at or near the bottom in a number of areas, including academic achievement and graduation rates."

As for Senator Carmichael, he said eliminating a few extra days won't interfere with a student's education.

"There's no way you can make me believe that five days over the whole year is going to make that much of a difference in student outcomes," he said.

The Mississippi State Senate voted to pass the legislation on Wednesday with a 39-8 vote.

The House has to review the amendments to determine if they accept the Senate's proposal.

The bill was originated as House Bill 1170.

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