Oconee County schools will begin classes on the first Wednesday of August and end classes on the Friday of the third full week in May in each of the next three academic years if the Board of Education accepts the recommendation presented to it at its work session last week.
Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, director of Communications for the schools, told the Board the draft calendars were the result of work by a Calendar Committee and had been reviewed as well by Parent Advisory, Student Advisory, and Teacher Advisory groups.
The calendars respond to what Jimenez called three “pillars,” namely that students should return in August and never in July, that students’ last day should be in May and never in June, and that each semester should include 90 days for instruction.
The Board is not scheduled to take action on the calendars until next year, but it is being asked to vote at its regular meeting tomorrow (Monday) on a revision to the current academic calendar that would make the last day of classes a half-day session. That feature is part of the proposed calendars as well.
The Board also is scheduled to vote on a proposed $3.5 million replacement of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at North Oconee High School.
At the work session last week, the Board also received updates on continuing road work at the entrances to the Dove Creek Elementary School on Hog Mountain Road and was advised that the county is seeking input on proposed roundabouts at entrances to the Malcom Bridge schools on Malcom Bridge Road.
Jimenez told the Board that a Calendar Committee consisting of School Superintendent Jason Branch, herself, and two principals from the county’s elementary schools, two principals from the county’s middle schools and two principals from the two high schools had drafted the proposed calendars.
|Jimenez, Board Members Wayne Bagley And Tim Burgess|
The Committee considered input from a survey of about 1,000 respondents, most of whom were parents and teachers, Jimenez said. Students, community members, administrators, and support staff also were represented, she said.
The Committee agreed on the three “pillars” and then got input from the advisory groups, Jimenez reported.
The Board will be asked to approve the calendars for academic years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. The calendar for 2021-2022 will simply be available for reference.
“We wanted to build in predictability to our calendars where parents could plan ahead,” Jimenez told the Board.
Breaks And UGA
Jimenez said that survey respondents suggested a later start date for school, a longer Fall Break, and a Spring Break that aligned with the Spring Break for the University of Georgia.
The start dates for the 2019-2020 Academic Year will be Aug. 7, later than the Aug. 1 start this year.
“Our principals recommended to us that it was very important to us that we keep that full week of Thanksgiving break but that it would have an adverse impact on instruction for us to have a week-long Fall Break, a week-long Thanksgiving break, and two weeks off the winter holiday break,” Jimenez said.
As a result, the Fall Break will be a long weekend, from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14.
Spring Break will be April 6 to 10, which does not coincide with the University of Georgia Spring Break in March.
“We looked at the data,” Jimenez said, “and 14 percent of our students have one or more parents who works at the University of Georgia, which means 86 percent do not.”
She said the Committee also considered when other schools in the area are having Spring Break before rejecting the idea of matching up with the University of Georgia schedule.
Dove Creek Road Work
Brock Toole, chief operations officer, told the Board that the realignment of V.M. Osborne Road at the Dove Creek Elementary School is now complete and that the right and left turn off V.M. Osborne onto Hog Mountain Road is now open.
It is not possible to enter the School from Hog Mountain Road via V.M. Osborne, Toole reminded the Board. That is consistent with agreed-up plans for the School. Entrance is via Osborne Road and then V.M. Osborne Road.
Toole did not tell the Board explicitly, but road work at the school was not complete.
Justin Kirouac, Oconee County administrator, told me in an email message on Thursday, that “All the major work is complete. (Contractor E.R.) Snell was installing guardrail this week.”
Kirouac said that “There's some final shoulder work and grassing/cleanup remaining that the Road Department is completing.”
The County originally had said work at Dove Creek would be completed by Oct. 26 and then, according to a report at the Nov. 5 Board of Education meeting, by Thanksgiving.
Construction was delayed because of a high pressure gas line that runs along Hog Mountain Road.
Malcom Bridge Road
Toole told the Board that the county plans to conduct a feasibility study for three roundabouts planned for Malcom Bridge Road between Lenru Road and Mars Hill Road.
The roundabouts would be at Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road, at the parent entrance to Malcom Bridge Middle School on Malcom Bridge Road, and at the bus entrance to Malcom Bridge Elementary School and Malcom Bridge Middle School on Malcom Bridge Road.
Kirouac told me in an email message on Dec. 4 that “We are moving forward with the design/feasibility/concept only at this point.”
The developer of a shopping center at the intersection of Lenru Road and Malcom Bridge Road is required to install roundabouts or equivalents at the Lenru intersection and one of the school entrances as part of the zoning conditions.
The county also is considering constructing a roundabout at the other school entrance, Kirouac said.
North Oconee High School
The Board is being asked at its meeting on Monday to approve a bid of $2,995,000 by Kevin Price Construction, 2500 Daniells Bridge Road, for replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) at North Oconee High School on Hog Mountain Road.
Price was the low bidder among six firms that submitted proposals by the Nov. 29 deadline, according to Toole.
The superintendent is recommending that the Board approve the bid at the regular Board meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Monday) at the Superintendents’s Office on School Street in Watkinsville.
The HVAC replacement is the final of three large projects covered by the Education Local Option Sales Tax initiative approved by voters to begin this year.
The others are the $8.6 million expansion of Oconee County High School and the $13.2 Dove Creek Elementary School. Both of those projects are in their final stages of completion.
Final costs for the North Oconee High School project is $3,486,725, which includes the fee for Kevin Price as well as architecture fees, surveying costs, and a 10 percent contingency figure.
The video of the Dec. 3 meeting of the Board of Commissioners is below.
The report by Jimenez begins at 14:03 in the video.
Toole’s report on the road projects is at 8:37 in the video.