Dawson Springs Independent Schools may have some shorter Fridays in its school year starting this fall.

Director of Pupil Personnel Kent Workman presented the calendar committee’s proposal for the 2021-20 school year and included in it are four early dismissal days.

Workman showed the Dawson Springs school board the tentative calendar, and the presentation at Monday night’s regular meeting served as the first reading of the calendar. At the board’s next monthly meeting on March 16, the board will decide whether to accept the calendar as proposed on second reading.

Each year, the calendar committee, which is made up of a school board member, teachers, parents, classified staff and administrators, meet to create a calendar that works good for as many people as possible.

“You’re never gonna please everybody,” Workman said.

This is the third year school board member Lindsey Morgan has served on the committee. She describes this 2020-21 school calendar as a “labor of love” because of all the moving parts.

Workman said he comes to the first meeting with several calendar options and with all the revisions, the committee finally decides on a final proposal.

The school year starts for teachers, who will have professional development Aug. 5-7. Opening day for staff is Aug. 10. The first day of school for students will be Tuesday, Aug. 11.

The first break from school and the first early dismissal day will be Friday, Sept. 4.

The early dismissal days were suggested to help teachers and staff have more time to meet together, Workman said. “We ask our teachers to do a whole lot.”

The early dismissal days would give teachers a 3-hour structured planning period, he added. The calendar has plenty of instructional time scheduled for students. The state requires 1,062 hours of instruction and 175 days of school for students.

“I think it will be a good idea,” Workman said. The district has used early dismissal days in the past, he added.

Dismissal time on early dismissal days will likely be around 12:30 p.m. after the end of the last lunch, he added. There is still some finagling to do with the schedule on those days because currently the last lunch ends around 1 p.m.

Other early dismissal days are scheduled for Oct. 2, Feb. 5 and March 5.

There will be no school on holidays: Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Fall break coincides with Caldwell County, who offers their tech center for Dawson Springs use, and is Oct. 5-9. Thanksgiving break is Nov. 25-27, while Christmas break starts Dec. 21 for students and Dec. 22 for staff. Everyone returns Jan. 4, 2021. Spring break is the first full week of April, April 5-9.

Nov. 2 will be used for a professional development day and on Election Day, the next day, school will not be in session. There will also be no school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January.

Flex days are accounted for in the calendar. Those days can be used to make up days students missed. If no makeup days are required, that day will be a professional development day for staff. Flex days are Dec. 21, Feb. 15 and March 15.

Graduation and the last day of school for students is scheduled for May 21, a Friday. Closing day for teachers is May 24. Makeup days will be added to the end of the school year if necessary.

Another notable subject discussed at Monday night’s meeting was the potential for a lawsuit.

Whalen said the school board will need to think about whether it wants to pursue a lawsuit against the company who installed sidewalks back in the summer of 2017.

Ray Construction was awarded the bid for the project, which would replace the sidewalks in front of the high school at a cost of nearly $30,000.

The district took on Philip Hamby of Hamby Consulting as engineer of record to make sure that project and others are completed correctly. That move was part of the Kentucky Department of Education’s rules on using capital outlay funds.

Whalen said the sidewalks were installed during extremely hot conditions and he believes the quality of the sidewalks is not good. He asked the opinion of Hamby, who agreed. A portion of the sidewalk was sent for testing, but those results came back skewed, he added.

Whalen sought advice from Mike Owsley, the board’s attorney, and from a concrete expert in California. Both men feel that the school board is in the right.

Ray Construction, whose owner has since retired and shut down the business, does not take responsibility and the insurance company won’t pay for repairs or replacement, Whalen said.

The school board will need to decide whether to pursue litigation or to count the loss and repair the sidewalk itself, Whalen said. To repair, he estimated it would cost about $12,000. To pursue litigation, it would require lawyer’s fees and a detailed report from the California firm for nearly $4,000 to start the process, which may or may not end up in the board’s favor.

The board will meet for its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, March 16.

In other business, the board:

• recognized the monthly fine art award winners. Elizabeth Bell, a second-grader, showed the board her artwork, “Cotton Candy Heart.” She wants to be an artist when she grows up. Jaydon Plunkette’s artwork, “Blues Clues,” was on display during the meeting. He is a sixth-grader. High-school Abigail Garrett talked about a silhouette piece of work that features a soldier and his dog. It is called “Man’s Best Friend.” Abigail said she included the soldier because she is thankful for the troops. She plans to be a police officer.

• welcomed the high school academic team and praised them for their second-place finish at the regional competition. Six students placed in individual competition. See the article on Page 1 for more information. The board later approved middle school and high school teams and coaches to travel to Louisville to compete March 13-15.

• listened to a presentation by the Young Leaders in Action, a group of three eighth-graders, on the benefit of adding a mental health class to the district’s curriculum. Maddie Back, Mackenzie Creekmur and Lance Browning had a PowerPoint presentation prepared. The group is advised by teacher Brannigan Ethridge.

• heard from Dawson Springs Elementary Principal Jennifer Ward, who updated the board on vertical planning within the district. Jr./Sr. High School Principal Todd Marshall talked about the happenings in his building. The school is going to be part of a Office of Education Accountability study to find out how the new graduation requirements would affect high schools in Kentucky. Chief Academic Officer Larry Cavanah also gave his report to the board.

• learned about the most recent enrollment and attendance figures. Workman said the current 93.29 district attendance percentage is “horrendous.” Enrollment is up seven students to 556.

• approved the treasurer’s reporter as given by Amanda Workman Almon. The general fund balance at the end of January was $1,575,054.56. She noted that Fund 2 is up quite a bit as the preschool got about $59,000 as part of a grant. The preschool is updating its room, supplies and equipment.

• acknowledged incorrect information from the last board meeting. The source of an offer of assistance was confused with another. The board approved the School Facilities Construction Commission offer of assistance in the annual debt service amount $5,585 to be used toward proposed construction outlined in the facilities plan. The board also approved 2020 KETS second offer of assistance in the amount of $3,795 to be escrowed up to three years.

• approved the Family Resource and Youth Service Center Continuous Program Plan.

• acknowledged personnel actions. Ladonna Pace-Hooper was hired as the head softball coach, Joy Cowan was hired as the assistant softball coach and Wayne Simpson was hired as the co-ed track head coach.