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  Monday September 22nd, 2014    

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WAPS contemplates longer school year (05/15/2013)
By Chris Rogers

A district-wide switch to a year-round school calendar that includes additional remedial classes will not come cheap, according to a superintendent’s office report that the Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Board will discuss on Thursday.

The report contained in the agenda packet did not include alternative options or second opinion estimates for air-conditioning Madison, Jefferson, and Washington-Kosciusko elementary schools, as board members had called for.

Air conditioning at those in-city schools would be necessary to make a district-wide switch to year-round school, which has received more support among board members than limiting the switch to specific schools.

At the board’s March 21 meeting, WAPS Superintendent Scott Hannon reported that consulting firm Energy Savings Group (ESG) estimated that installing air conditioning at all three schools would cost just under $15 million dollars. Hannon pointed out that this was nearly as much as the estimated cost of a new elementary building: $22 million.

Board members balked at ESG’s estimate, calling it a “Cadillac system” and saying that the district should seek other estimates.

District staff say they are still exploring “less costly, however less efficient, options to cool the three buildings.”

Another element of year-round schooling that excited board members will not come cheap, either, according to the staff report. Year-round school years have several two-week breaks, or inter-sessions, dispersed throughout the year. Advocates for the system say that offering remedial course work during these inter-sessions gives struggling students more and better opportunities to catch up than traditional summer school.

District staff estimate that operating remedial inter-session classes at all schools would cost nearly $270,000 in staffing and $361,000 in transportation costs. However, district staff point out that staffing costs could be significantly reduced by limiting the length of remedial school days.

If implementation of year-round school is limited to specific schools, there would be additional transportation costs, but they would be a fraction of the estimated cost for a district-wide switch.

In past discussions, the board has not favored limiting a calendar change to certain schools, in part because of concerns that having siblings at different buildings on different calendar schedules would be unpalatable for families. 

 

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