Academic calendar approved for the 2016-2017 school year

Caroline Crews, staff writer

The school year doesn’t start whenever it is convenient for the superintendent.  In fact, it’s based on a number of factors.

On Jan. 25 the academic calendar for the 2016-2017 school year for the Oxford School District was approved by the School Board of Trustees.

School will start on Aug. 8 – four days earlier than it did in 2015.  So why the early start to the academic year?

First, it is required by the Mississippi Department of Education that there are 180 school days for an academic year, and at least 84 of those days must occur before the end of the first semester.

This current academic year there were only 84days before Christmas break.  If there had been a snow day (or school had been canceled), exams would have been pushed back until after Christmas, which would have been an unpopular move, according to Superintendent Brian Harvey.

In order to not be put in this position again, the start date for the 2016-2017 school year was set a few days earlier, so that there will be 89 school days before Christmas break.

In addition, having nearly the same amount of days during the first and second semesters is beneficial for semester classes.  Having 84 days before Christmas break for the 2015-16 academic year caused there to be 96 days after Christmas break.  This means that there will be two more weeks of instruction during the second semester than the first semester.

Next year, however, there will be 89 days in the first semester and 91 days in the second semester, so students who take a semester class first semester and students who take it second semester will have nearly the same amount of class time.

The second reason for the earlier start date is that it needed to be around the same time as the Oxford-Lafayette School of Applied Technology start date.  The TECH is a vocational school shared by the Oxford and Lafayette school districts.  In order for Oxford High School students who take classes at the TECH to not fall behind in their classes, the OSD start date had to be close to the same time as the TECH start date.

“It’s very disruptive for those classes if half of the class isn’t there because they’re starting on different days,”School Board President Whitney Byars said.

“Although it (the start date) is a little bit earlier, it’s not as early as we once started, because we have started on Aug. 3 before,” Harvey said, “It’s a medium between an early start and a late start.”

The reason that school started later for the past two years was that renovations were being made in several different school buildings.

Another change in the calendar is that school will get out before Christmas break on a Tuesday.  According to district policy, since New Year’s is on a Sunday, schools must be closed the following Monday.

There must also be a day for district offices to be open, and teachers must have a workday before the students return.  Therefore, students will not be able to return to school after Christmas break until Thursday, Jan. 5.

Since there are more days added onto the end of the holiday due to this policy, there had to be fewer days in the beginning of the holiday, so two more school days were added on before Christmas break on Monday, Dec. 19 and Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Because school will be getting out on a Tuesday, exams will be split between two weeks.

“I think it would be helpful if you have hard exams,” junior Addison Meadows said.

Throughout the school year, and especially during the second semester, there are several no-school days interspersed.  These days will be used as designated make-up days, which are necessary because of graduation.

Graduation exercises cannot take place more than three days before the end of school.  Therefore, it is important to have designated make-up days in the middle of the year so that if there are more than three snow days, graduation will still be able to happen on the set date.

These days – two of which occur on Apr. 17, 2017, and May 5, 2017 – will also be used as a break for students and professional development days for teachers if they are not used in place of a cancelled school day.

“I think that once we get school started it will be nice to get some random days off to relax,” sophomore Malazia Pegues said. “It would help a lot to have a break from all of the work that we have to do and projects.”