0713 School registration LEAD ART.jpg

Melissa Green, Director of Accreditation and Management Information Systems for DeSoto County Schools, assists Heather Hodge and Oak Grove Central Elementary School fifth-grader Hayden Hodge with registration for the upcoming school year.

DeSoto County School District (DCS) officials are reminding parents of school-age children that, while they’re enjoying their summer vacations, the start of school is just a few short weeks away.

That’s right, folks, it’s time to get your youngster registered again for the beginning of school.

Classes start on Wednesday, Aug. 7, and parents have to have their children registered into where they will be attending school before they may enter the classroom.

Apparently, the “lazy, hazy days of summer” have been more lazy in terms of parents’ expediency to gather the items they need to register their children, said Melissa Green, DCS Director of Accreditation and Management Information Systems. Green is the staff person in charge of overseeing the registration process.

“We were very slow last year until the DeSoto Times-Tribune came out with an article,” Green said. “It’s the same way this year. I got statistics on Monday, and we had 28,000 students that still needed to prove residency for this year. If we had 21 days until school started, that would be 1,238 students per day that parents needed to prove residence. We’ve been here taking school registrations since June 10.”

There are about 34,000 students who attend classes in Mississippi’s largest public school district.

A main component of school registration is proof of residency, Green explains. It’s a step that is mandated by state law.

Green said there are items parents must bring to the Central Services office in Hernando or to the school attendance center where their child will go to school to accomplish that part of the process.

“The items that provide proof of residency are a mortgage or a lease document, a current utility bill and/or a car tag registration,” Green said. “The state of Mississippi requires parents to provide their residency every year.”

The other component of the process is done online and can be done at home through the school district website at desotocountyschools.org or by visiting the school or Green’s office in the DCS Central Services.

“We want parents to complete their online registration and then we need them to provide their proof of residence to either the school or the district Central Services office,” said Green.

The next few weeks are going to involve long days for Green and her staff, as they will be putting in extra hours to accommodate parents.

Registration is done every week day at Central Services, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Registration may also be done at each school between 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

There will be additional hours for accepting registrations in the days ahead of the start of classes, however. Central Services will be open until 7 p.m. on July 23, 25, and 29 and again on Aug. 1. On Saturday, July 27, registrations will be accepted between 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

“We try to accommodate the working parents, those parents that have to work until 5 p.m. We understand that people have to work,” said Green.

In Southaven and Olive Branch, additional opportunities to register are being done for schools that feed into Southaven High School and Olive Branch High School.

“Southaven and Olive Branch are doing group registrations,” Green explained. “Southaven High School is hosting one on two separate nights where all of the schools that feed into Southaven High School can register there. They’ll set up tables in the high school gymnasium, and parents may go there and register. They will do that from 3-7 p.m. on July 23 and July 25.”

Green added the schools that feed into Olive Branch High School will offer a registration evening at Olive Branch Middle School on Thursday, July 18, between 6-8 p.m.

“Olive Branch schools did it last year and it was very successful,” Green said. “People don’t have to travel to different schools. They can do it all in one place. They just love it!”

Students who are not registered by the first day of class will have to wait before they are assigned a classroom or schedule.

“The elementary school students will not have a teacher assigned and high school students will not receive a schedule,” Green said. “By a parent waiting, it really hurts the child. Until you provide residency, you cannot go on a teacher’s roster because we won’t know if you’re coming back or not. You can’t have a schedule because we don’t know if you actually live here.”

She added there are still Shelby County, Tennessee parents that each year try to enroll their children in DeSoto County Schools, “but when they find out they need a car tag, they change their mind,” Green said.

Green speculates that parents haven’t yet considered registration because of the summer vacation period.

“They start seeing the stores loading school supplies out and that’s what reminds them about registration,” Green explained.

So, parents, it’s time to come off the beach, the backyard or the ball field, and take a moment to get those youngsters of yours registered for the next school year. It will take just a few moments and relieve a lot of headaches when the school bell rings again on Aug. 7 in DeSoto County.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.