Summer recess coming early for local kids |

Summer recess coming early for local kids

John Colson

Summer vacation will start a couple of days early for Aspen elementary and middle school students. And it could be that a similar calendar adjustment will be necessary next year to accommodate construction at the Aspen public schools campus.The Aspen School District board on Monday voted to end classes for grades K-8 two days early, on May 31 rather than June 2, to smooth the way for construction crews to begin work as early as possible. Eighth-grade graduation exercises will take place June 1 as planned.High schoolers are not so lucky – school will still end for them June 2.”The students will still meet all state requirements on attendance time,” Superintendent Diana Sirko emphasized. The state requires middle school students attend 1,080 instructional hours in a school year; elementary school students must attend 990 hours.The elementary and middle school grounds will become a construction site over the summer, and the middle school will sit in the center of a construction site all next year.Contractors will be making major repairs to the elementary school roof, as well as adding a second floor to one wing of the school to create five more classrooms. The goal is to have the work mostly finished by Aug. 28; some final painting, plumbing and other “punch-list” work is expected to continue after school has started. A planned remodel of the district theater will wait until summer 2007.Meanwhile, work will begin on construction of a new middle school. It will be an L-shaped configuration that will surround the existing school building on the north and west sides, which will allow students to attend classes in the old structure during the 2006-07 school year. Faculty and students will then move over to the new building, and the old building will be demolished to make room for a new, much larger playground area.Kevin Heath, an architect with Studio B in Aspen, said Monday that it is possible the district also will need to end school early in the spring of 2007 and start classes late the following fall in order for the middle school to be ready for occupancy on time.Sirko said that has been discussed, but added that the calendar for the 2007-08 school year has not been adopted yet. But, she said, “we are not anticipating any changes to the 2006-07 calendar.”District voters passed a $33 million bond question, approving the work on both schools. Construction is expected to start June 5.

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