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School starts, minus upperclassmen

August 23, 2018

Freshmen began their first day of school Wednesday at Kankakee High School, but one thing was missing — upperclassmen.

The older students are expected to start in about two and a half weeks, delayed because of a nearly $20 million construction project.

Freshmen, meanwhile, headed to a mobile building behind the main high school. The mobile contains six classrooms. They were greeted at either end of the building by teachers, who gave directions to classrooms.

Half the freshmen class attended school in the morning, while the other half went in the afternoon.

As classes began, teachers told students to log into their school-issued laptops, known as Chromebooks.

While at home, upperclassmen also are expected to access their Chromebooks to begin doing their lessons remotely. Officials said they would visit homes of students who fail to comply.

The school hopes that sophomores, juniors and seniors can start attending class on Sept. 10, but officials have yet to commit to a date.

Superintendent Genevra Walters met with the building contractor Wednesday, as she does every week.

“We haven’t changed our projected date, but we’re not going to announce Sept. 10 is the official day for another week,” she said. “If there is any major rain, that would delay the finishing of the outside area where the buses come in.”

The delay in opening the school for upperclassmen has been blamed on unseasonably cold weather last spring and a late state inspection.

Construction in parts of the school is supposed to last through next summer.

“Construction is coming along really well,” Walters said. “There’s another phase of a group of classrooms that was expected to start in January. Now they’re expected to begin in September.”

The Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education, which approves new construction for occupancy, will be ready to inspect when needed, said Gregg Murphy, the regional superintendent.

“We’ll be granting occupancy as parts of the facility become available,” Murphy said.

He said the school’s architect was “very positive” with the pace of construction, saying the district has a good plan in place.

Also opening Wednesday were the rest of the schools in the Kankakee district.

“It was one of the best beginnings of a school year,” Walters said. “We had minor busing issues, as we always do. We’re trying to straighten them up. They’ll be taken care of quickly.”

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