Students at Urbana City Schools next year will spend longer, but fewer, days in class to accommodate construction of school buildings.
Students will start the 2017-18 school year on Aug. 16 and end it May 11. Each day will be 15 minutes longer. The changes move the school year’s start five days sooner than last year, Superintendent Charles Thiel said.
The school board unanimously approved next year’s school calendar at its Tuesday meeting.
Even with the changed calendar, students will receive more than the required minimum hours of instruction, Thiel said.
Building construction crews asked the district to give them the longest summer possible in 2018, when a lot of work will be done at both new-school sites. At that point, construction crews want to have students mostly out of the old high school so they can remove asbestos and start demolition, Thiel said.
A lot of what will be done and when depends on how quickly the construction of both buildings comes together. Students are predicted to be able to move from the current high school into the new high school in March 2018, a “mid-year move” over the students’ Spring Break, Thiel said. That allows construction crews to start working in the old high school. The new high school will have students in grades 9 to 12, while the eighth graders would move to the north end of the old high school.
The high school won’t be completely demolished until the new pre-kindergarten to eighth grade building on South U.S. Route 68 is habitable, Thiel said. Current plans put students moving into that building in January 2019; but if construction moves along smoothly, students could begin using that building in August 2018. If that building is available for use, students won’t have to deal with another mid-year move in the 2018-19 school year.
The district will not know if the elementary/middle school building will be ready for use in August 2018 until about a year from now, Thiel said.
The school board also unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Urbana Association of Classroom Teachers (UACT), allowing for the longer day in the teachers union contract. It reduces the number of teacher work days from 185 to 179 for the year.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.