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Sales tax holiday for school clothes nears

July 23, 2012

Just because flip-flops are eligible for Mississippi’s upcoming sales tax holiday does not mean they are a good choice for every student.

For instance, James Covington, Oktibbeha County School District superintendent, said there are no restrictions on brands or styles of shoes worn, but the shoes must have closed toes. He said the district will also be encouraging more of its students to wear belts on their pants. This is because while Covington said the OCSD has not worked with a uniform company for several years, it does have a uniform policy.

“Parents are free to purchase wherever they like,” Covington said. “We just tell them what to purchase, not where to purchase.”

Every public and private school in Starkville and Oktibbeha County has a uniform policy parents and students will need to keep in mind as they shop during the sales tax holiday this Friday and Saturday, and some of those uniform policies have changed this year.

Jennifer Gregory, Greater Starkville Development Partnership chief operating officer, said she encourages shoppers to buy local during the sales tax holiday. Local spending supports not only Starkville schools, but also social services, non-profits and the public library.

“Several retailers that will be hot spots for shoppers might include Mary Virginia’s and Sports Center for their school uniforms, Reeds for their backpacks, and B. Davis Shoes for their shoes,” Gregory said. “We estimate that each dollar spent at a local business will return up to five times that amount within our community through city taxes, employees’ wages, and purchases of materials, supplies and services at other independent businesses.”

According to a release from the Mississippi Department of Revenue, the tax holiday starts at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 27 and ends at midnight Saturday, July 28. The holiday applies to clothing and footwear but not accessories, with “clothing” defined not only as pants, shirts and dresses, but also undergarments, outerwear, hats, belts and multi-piece garments sold as a set.

“Footwear” excludes items like skis, swim fins and skates, the release says, and “accessories” include jewelry, handbags, umbrellas, wallets, watches and backpacks. More details are available at MDOR’s website at

Covington said the uniform policy this year has changed to allow grey shirts at all its schools, enabling students on the county’s west side to wear their school colors. He said most stores carry items that fit the OCSD’s uniform code, and more information about the code is available at or by calling 323-1472.

Starkville School District Public Information Officer Nicole Thomas said the SSD’s dress code also allows students and parents to buy from retailers of their choosing. Students can also wear a school T-shirt each Friday to show school spirit, and there are also spirit days for the Mississippi State University Bulldogs at various times of year when students and staff can wear maroon and white. More information about the SSD’s uniform policy is available at

“The Starkville School District amended its dress code policy last year to allow more options for outerwear worn inside the building,” Thomas said. “The amended policy allows logos covering less than 10 percent of the garment on jackets, sweatshirts, and sweaters worn inside.”

John “Doc” Stephens, headmaster of Starkville Academy, said its uniform policy uses shirts sold by Uniform Associates, but all other items conforming to the policy can be purchased anywhere. Like the SSD, students can wear school T-shirts on Fridays, and the only policy change this year accommodates new types of shirts Uniform Associates will sell this year, discontinuing some shirt types.

An SA newsletter says shirts brought prior to this change are still approved as school apparel. It also says Uniform Associates will come to SA’s campus to sell apparel Monday and on Aug. 6 from 12-5:30 p.m., but Stephens said this does not mean patrons cannot take advantage of the sales tax holiday. More information on SA’s uniform policy is available at

“Our uniform company is out of Meridian,” Stephens said. “They come to campus a few times a year to set up shop and sell. However, our patrons can go online and purchase at any time, and yes, they will honor the sales tax holiday.”

Finally, Starkville Christian School Principal Randy Witbeck said his school’s uniforms can also be bought during the sales tax holiday locally, but at only one store: Sports Center on Highway 12 near Brewski’s. Otherwise, he said, patrons must buy items by mail order from Lands’ End or online from LaRose Uniform Company, which operates out of Memphis, Tenn. and Birmingham, Ala. More information is available at

“Once they hit (grades) 7-12, they’re required to wear button-down shirts on Thursdays,” Witbeck said. “We just use those for dress chapel. On Fridays, they’re able to wear Starkville Christian School T-shirts.”

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