Monticello students and staff will experience a more compressed school year in 2020-21 in order to accommodate the district’s upcoming building project at the high school/Washington Elementary campus.

The project timeline eyes several renovation-related items for the summer of 2020, so the district will end the 2019-20 school year about three days early and not see classes pick up again until Sept. 1, about 10 days later than the typical school year start. This year the first day of student attendance was Aug. 22.

Adjustments for 2020-21 include a shorter Christmas break, three days off at spring instead of a full week, and students attending on Columbus Day and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, holidays that have traditionally been days off.

Superintendent Vic Zimmerman said the adjustments will allow contractors more time for tasks that need to be done without students present.

"This would be a one-time situation with our calendar because of the facility project," said Zimmerman at the Dec. 19 school board meeting. "We wanted to extend the summer of 2020 to be as long as we could possibly make it."

Portions of the estimated $33.2 million project that are slated for that summer include window replacements, converting some existing classrooms into high school office space, the addition of some walls at existing Washington Elementary and other renovation items at both schools.

The 2020-21 school year will see students start on Sept. 1 and the year end on May 28 if no snow days are used. Christmas break will be from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 and spring break March 16-20.

Calendar approval was tentative, as the state has indicated it may require the addition of another instructional day for Illinois school districts.

For next fall (2019-20), the calendar will see school start earlier with students reporting on Aug. 16. That adjustment is being made so that classes can conclude earlier in anticipation of the long summer in 2020.

Project adjustments

About $440,000 of the nearly $5 million in items trimmed at a meeting a week earlier were put back into the building project on Dec. 19, thanks to a revised savings estimate supplied by architects and project managers. In cutting a portion of a plan to convert the high school from steam to hot water heat, about $1.3 million will be saved, about $900,000 more than previous estimates.

The largest item that is back in is $374,000 for a hallway and storage space in the new gymnasium that had been tentatively cut from the plan.

Zimmerman noted it was a lot of dollars for non-program space, but said it could not be an alternate bid, "so that’s why we have to decide."

The hallway would separate the gym from the locker rooms, increasing privacy, while adding back in a storage room and expanding the storm shelter capacity from 450 to 600 people.

"It is a lot of money for what it is, but it’s just square footage we’ll never get back," said board president Gary Huisinga.

Board member Zach Hillard was also hesitant, but also saw the value of the hallway and storage.

"I would much rather put the square footage back in more program space, but I understand how it would be nice to have, too," he said.

Sarah Ross noted that, should an alternate bid for multipurpose rooms in the gym become a reality, "we’re going to regret not having that storage space."

With that in mind it was placed back in the building program. Also taken off the cut list were three large windows for the north side of the media center (estimated $21,000), painting the lockers in the existing Washington wing ($4,360) and bumping the square footage of new Washington classrooms back up to the original plan of 825 square feet each ($33,785).

Project bids, expected to be received in late March or early April, will also include nine alternates that can be included if the budget allows. Those include an asphalt overlay of the parking lot to the south of the schools, adding a balcony to the high school theater, expanded casework for the new high school science labs, more door replacement in renovated areas, sinks for all new Washington classrooms, new gym multipurpose rooms, a canopy for the outside of the new gym, expanding high school window replacement, and bidding out an additional HVAC controls vendor.

There are two items that will be in the base bid but could be deducted if the bid is over budget: A new high school entry element and an upgrade to the existing fire alarm system.