3 Westside schools to have shortened years
Time needed to complete bond-issue improvements

       Because of daunting bond-issue construction schedules this summer, the 2006-2007 school year for students at Washington and Bristol elementaries will end about three weeks early, while at Holmes Middle School it will be about a week.
       The District 11 Board of Education voted for the changes - recommended by administrative staff and the schools' principals - at the Sept. 27 meeting.
       Because Holmes already had scheduled far more than the required school-year hours, there will be no need for longer days to make up the time, according to Principal Brenda LeBrasse. However, at Bristol and Washington, school days will be extended a half-hour when second quarter starts Oct. 16.
       “My staff likes it,” Bristol Principal Steve Ferguson told the Westside Pioneer before the board meeting. “They feel it gives us additional time in the day, and they're looking forward to that.” As for his school's bond-issue work, which will include air conditioning and a gutting of its out-moded open-classroom interior, “I think people are excited that the school is going to be renovated.”
       Martinez, whose school also will undergo major interior work, said he too is hearing positive comments. One thing parents are particularly pleased about is that notice has been given to them “way in advance,” he said. As he told the board at the meeting, “they're excited that we're pre-planning and not waiting” until the last minute.
       The principals will now begin planning how to dedicate the extra time. “There are some good possibilities, and we're brainstorming them,” Martinez said.
       The two Westside elementaries are among four in the district (the other two are Columbia and Wilson) that will now end their years May 4, based on the board action. Holmes (along with East Middle School) will get out May 16. The last day of the school for the rest of District 11 will be May 24.
       An earlier finale for her school would have been hard to achieve, because of planned year-end activities, Holmes Principal Brenda LeBrasse said. As it was, the district had to reschedule the Boys' Classic Track Meet a week earlier, and Holmes students will have to give up a holiday they would have had - a now-eliminated teachers' conference day May 11.
       The goal in all the schools' cases is to complete the bond-issue work by the start of the 2007-08 school year next August. Final building plans and schedules are still being drawn up for each of the schools. At Holmes, some of the work is tentatively planned to start before school lets out, while at Washington and Bristol it's not yet known if that will be necessary.

Westside Pioneer article