Mars considering later start to 2019-20 school year

February 6, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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ADAMS TWP — A later school start date next fall would help a renovation project at Mars Middle School have the least impact on students, officials said Tuesday.

During a Mars School Board on Tuesday, board members were presented with three options for the 2019-20 school calendar. That information was presented following a special meeting on the $14.6 million renovation project at the Middle School.

During that presentation, officials with Thomas & Williamson Program Management said they had found a way to set up phases of the project to ensure students would not have to leave the building during construction. Previous tentative plans called for students to be taken to other district buildings throughout the day while work occurred.

Wesley Shipley, school superintendent, said based on that plan, the first calendar option would see students starting the day after Labor Day on Sept. 3, and would feature longer Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Shipley said that calendar would be used if the board decided to choose a construction plan in which students at the middle school were taken to the Centennial or high schools throughout the day.

However, with plans to keep students at the school presented last week, the board was given two more options.

The first would see the start date for students moved a full week to Sept. 9. New teachers would arrived Aug. 29, with current teacher in-service set for Sept. 3-5.

Thanksgiving break would be four days, and Christmas break would be two full weeks to allow for additional construction time. The project has a tentative completion date of Dec. 12.

Shipley said that option would allow for a snow makeup day April 9, and would see the school year extended until June 18 with two additional snow days built in. He said this would require a discussion on a graduation date, with potential options including a weekend graduation.

Under the second proposal, all start dates would remain the same, but Thanksgiving break would be trimmed to three days, and Christmas break would end Jan. 1. No snow days would be built in, but school would end June 10. Shipley said a graduation date would still need to be determined.

Board President Dayle Ferguson said the options that keep students at the middle school are preferred, and that she also prefers the second draft that gives the earlier end time.

Shipley said a final calendar proposal will be created prior to next week when the board is scheduled to vote on the matter. That meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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