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Construction delays district’s first day

COAL GROVE – Although starting school six days late, Dawson-Bryant students will only have to stay in school four days longer than other children in Lawrence County.

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

COAL GROVE – Although starting school six days late, Dawson-Bryant students will only have to stay in school four days longer than other children in Lawrence County. Two days will be made up during the year to prevent an extended stay in school, said Fran Herrell, elementary school principal.

"Our first day of school is Monday, Aug. 30, as far as we know," Mrs. Herrell said. "That’s what we have been told and that’s what we’re shooting for."

And regardless of the late start, students should not notice school lasting that much longer than usual, she said.

"We haven’t added all the makeup days in one block," Mrs. Herrell said. "We’ve spread them out over the year. We’ve made up every day in the calendar using the May Election Day and an additional day working prior to Christmas. We will get all the days in. We’ll close approximately June 1, barring any bad weather. We’ll close four days later than the other schools. We’re making up all the days we were set back."

The school district had to postpone the start of school, because of an addition to the cafeteria and kitchen at the elementary school.

This project was approved sometime in 1996 when area residents approved the construction of the new high school, said Dr. James Payne, school superintendent.

"This had to happen because of the number of students at the other elementaries that are now at the Deering school," Payne said. "We had to expand the cafeteria to handle the increased population."

The project, which began this past winter, was originally scheduled for completion this summer, Payne said.

"Construction projects never have hard and fast completion dates, however," he said. "That’s something we’ve always had to look at. There were some issues out of the district’s control. A number of little minor things pushed the completion date back."

Although the cafeteria will not be usable for at least another month, school officials wanted this extra week to make sure the students would have a safe environment in which to go to school, Payne added.

"The delay has given us an opportunity to do the sidewalks and get the roof on," he said. "There were safety issues and concerns. There were sidewalks that needed to be poured. When dealing with little kids, you have to be careful. You don’t want them falling into dangerous areas."

The school will continue to serve lunch in the gymnasium, and food will be prepared outside the building and brought in until the new cafeteria and kitchen expansion project is completed, Payne said.

"We made contingency plans to take care of that," he said.

Middle school and high school students also will begin school Aug. 30.

School officials decided it would be best to start all the schools in the district on the same day instead of staggering their starts, Payne said.

"It’s better and more effective to start at the same time," he said. "There might have been families with students in different buildings."

Faculty and staff at Dawson-Bryant schools are ready to get started, though, Mrs. Herrell added.

"Most of the teachers have been in preparing the rooms, and we’re looking forward to an active school year," Mrs. Herrell said. "The teachers will have their in services this week. The new teachers are arriving on the 25th and veteran teachers will be in serviced at all three buildings Thursday and Friday."