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School district plans for updates
Year could be altered depending on project plans
Monroe High School
Monroe High School

MONROE — School officials are looking at altering the 2019-20 school year if work funded through the recently passed referendum questions cannot begin until May 2020.

The School District of Monroe has plans to upgrade for more accessible bathrooms at Parkside Elementary School and Monroe Middle School and HVAC updates at Parkside which include a new heating system and new lighting.

District Administrator Rick Waski notified board members at their meeting in the library of Northside Elementary School Nov. 12 that he would be meeting with representatives from construction management company CG Schmidt of Madison next week. He and Business Administrator Ron Olson intend to discern whether the company can do enough pre-planning before the upcoming summer months to complete the project in 2019. 

However, Waski was not optimistic it would happen, making work more likely to take place the following summer, in 2020.

If the district were to wait, Waski said he plans to apply for a calendar waiver from the state Department of Public Instruction, which allows a district to shift its school year. It’s not unusual during renovation project, Waski said, noting Beaver Dam and other districts he knew had done it previously.

Because of the district transportation method, Waski said the entire district would apply for a waiver in the 2019-20 school year, not simply the two schools to receive updates. It would shorten the year to end before Memorial Day, he and Olson noted.

Currently, the application is just a consideration. If work can be done in summer 2019, no waiver would be requested.

Waski said he had already relayed the idea to staff earlier in the day before the board meeting to notify teachers and other workers who would be affected by the shift. 

Director of Curriculum & Instruction Terri Montgomery said staff would need to know, not just to plan lessons accordingly, but to better schedule vacation hours. She said teachers would also need to know as quickly as possible how summer school would be conducted because instructors plan on the income for their personal budgets.

Board member Teresa Keehn said she understood a shortened year may be needed to accommodate for noisy and lengthy renovations, but also supported making the summer break as close to its usual length as possible. She said the “summer dip” or summer slide, which commonly refers to a loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer months, should not be made worse because of the work.

Regardless of whether a waiver will be needed or when the work will occur, Waski said the board will likely see a contract for work to approve during its meeting Nov. 26.