The ongoing West Liberty-Salem Local Schools building project may impact next year’s school calendar.
The project must be completed by Sept. 16, and there is much work to be done, Superintendent Kraig Hissong said. He discussed a draft 2016-17 school calendar with board members Jan. 19, which would move the start of school to Sept. 19.
“At this point, I’m not going to gamble on them getting it done early,” he said about construction crews finishing the building project. Hissong said although the project is coming along well, crews have an “aggressive” timeline to get everything done.
The school board approved an alternate calendar for the current school year, which extended school days by 30 minutes to make up for a late start to accommodate the building project. Last summer, the calendar needed to be pushed back further into September for a school start date because wet weather delayed construction.
Next year, school may start Sept. 16 and end June 1, according to the draft calendar. School days would be extended by 30 minutes. It builds in two-day breaks for staff to move classrooms in November and in either March or April, Hissong said. The moves are needed so the old classrooms can be renovated. Despite the delayed start to the school year, the extra 30-minute days leave the district with more instruction time than traditional years.
Hissong said he hopes to bring a draft calendar to the school board for approval at its February meeting. He must first meet with staff and teachers to finalize it.
Hissong said, overall, staff has been positive about the lengthening the school day. A milder winter has reduced the need to cancel school for snow days, so far preventing a need to extend the school year into the summer.
The next step in the current phase of the construction is a two-day move for middle school teachers Feb. 8 and 9. They will move their classrooms to the new middle school wing. Teachers not involved in the moving are undergoing professional development.
Once those areas are vacated, construction crews will work on renovating the old middle school wing, the media center, high school art and family and consumer sciences program areas. Then in the summer, construction crews will be working on the “core” areas of the entire building, such as hallways and the cafeteria.
In other action, the board:
•Approved the use of district school buses for the fourth grade trip to the Shrine Circus on Feb. 6, with each rider paying a $5 fee to offset cost.
•Approved hiring Assistant Varsity Baseball coach Jerry Orahood at Step 0 for the 2015-16 school year.
•Approved hiring Assistant Middle School Boys and Girls Track coach Tom Eickoff at Step 3 for the 2015-16 school year.
•Approved volunteer coaches Brock Bahan for baseball; Larry Steider, Beth Lamb and Joe Farquharson for the middle school/high school track program; for the 2016 spring sports season.
•Approved volunteers for the eighth grade Washington, D.C. and the seventh grade Chicago overnight trips.
•Approved adding Amy Ferguson to the substitute bus driver list for the 2015-16 school year.
•Approved hiring full-time custodian Rudy Keith on a one-year contract at Step 0, effective Jan. 25, 2016.
•Approved new fund and associated revenue and budget accounts as required in regards to the new WL-S Key Club International student activity account.
•Approved a $5,000 Community Health and Wellness Grant from the Mary Rutan Foundation for the “In With the Good, Out with the Bad” program. The grant will be tracked through the cafeteria fund and accounts.
•Approved the Annual Education Tax Policy Institute Membership for calendar year 2016 for $1,000.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext; 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.