The Owensboro Public Schools Board of Education approved on June 25 to change the start date for the 2020-21 school year to Aug. 26, which also falls in line with what Daviess County, Owensboro Catholic, and other area districts are doing.
This start date is two weeks after the original Aug. 12 first day of school. It’s a delay that school officials say will give them more time to prepare for re-opening schools following the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
OPS Superintendent Matthew Constant also said the district should have a re-opening plan ready to release to the public by July 24. He said that OPS and other surrounding districts are considering a collaboration for the release of re-opening plans.
The Aug. 26 date is made allowable through a bill passed in 2017 that Constant said allows districts to set requirements for yearly instruction at 1,061 hours. Previously a school year was based on 170 days of instruction.
The new calendar also has the closing date for students as May 21. This change will only make each school day longer by about five to 15 minutes, depending on what building the student is in.
Fall, Thanksgiving, and the holiday breaks are still as originally scheduled, however, the start and end of each semester will differ slightly. Previously the first semester would end when students left for holiday break, and a new semester would begin in January when they returned.
“Because we are starting later, we would come back in January for a couple of weeks and then switch over the semester after the Martin Luther King holiday, just to balance out number of days in each semester,” Constant said.
The district also approved the beginning paperwork for the Cravens Elementary School renovation project.
Last month the district approved this paperwork, along with other paperwork for a Sutton Elementary School renovation at the same time as part of the same funding package. However, the Kentucky Department of Education said the district must separate the projects.
OPS Director of Finance John David Sandefur said that is fine, and that the district is issuing the Cravens project first so it can get started.
“We will address Sutton down the road,” Sandefur said. “It’s not tabled for a future year, it’s in the works. This change just keeps Cravens moving forward.”
The Cravens project will include a renovation much like the one at Newton Parrish Elementary and Sutton. When Sutton was renovated, there weren’t plans at that time to integrate fifth grade students back into elementary schools, and since then there has been a trailer in place at the school where students attend classes.
The Sutton project is planned to include the building of four new classrooms.
The Cravens renovation and addition will include a new gymnasium and performance arts room. It will also have a new roof put on, new floor finishes, paint, and the front entrance will be upgraded. The district also has plans to bring building up to energy efficiency standards.
Cravens opened in in the 1957-58 school year, during a time when the district also built Newton Parrish and what was then called the Seven Hills school. Rear renovations to the school were completed in 1964; in 1990 a new roof was put on; and a new HVAC was put in about 16 years ago. No major renovations have taken place since the 1990s, according to district spokesman Jared Revlett.
The estimated cost of both projects is $14,330,000 and Sutton’s expected to be about $1.2 million.
Bobbie Hayse, email@example.com, 270-691-7315