Mississippi legislators, in a special session that ended Oct. 5, offered a helping hand to hurricane-damaged districts by approving exemptions from the state’s school accountability law and new spending flexibility for districts and local governments in storm-ravaged areas.
Rep. Cecil C. Brown, the Democrat who chairs the Mississippi House education committee, said the school accountability bill would allow the state board of education to exempt storm-damaged districts from many of the law’s requirements for the 2005-06 school year.
Mr. Brown said he expected Republican Gov. Haley Barbour to sign the bill. Waivers will be considered based on requests by individual districts, he added.
To help out financially, the Democratic-controlled legislature also raised caps on the amounts districts can borrow and extended the length of time districts can pay off the debts.
Meanwhile, the state school board met Oct. 5 at Biloxi High School to adjust the number of required school days in storm-damaged districts. School districts must submit their requests for adjustments to school calendars by Nov. 15, state officials said.
Lawmakers also voted to allow casinos on the Gulf Coast to rebuild on land, rather than on water-bound barges as required by current law. Gov. Barbour is expected to sign the proposal, which proponents hope will jump start the region’s economy.
Paul Tisdale, the superintendent of the Biloxi, Miss., schools, which enrolled more than 6,000 students before the Hurricane Katrina hit, said his district normally receives about $6 million a year, at least 12 percent of its total budget, from local gambling profits.
A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 2005 edition of Education Week