School’s opening date remains unclear
KANKAKEE — Kankakee High School was hoping to open its doors to upperclassmen on Sept. 4, about two weeks late. But it could even be later than that.
Superintendent Genevra Walters said Wednesday she hoped the school would open to sophomores, juniors and seniors by Sept. 10. Still, she said there was a 20 percent chance it would start even later.
Whatever the case, Walters said, students will be required to log into their computers Aug. 22 and begin online lessons.
Freshmen will start school on Aug. 22 in mobile classrooms on campus. The school will not extend its academic year for the other students.
For those who fail to log in, the high school might ask them to come to class before Sept. 10. Starting Aug. 22, 35 classrooms will be available for those students.
Walters expressed confidence most of the school’s students will follow their lesson plans starting Aug. 22, but estimated about 10 percent would not.
The construction project started in early March and is expected to continue in phases through next summer.
The goal now is to get classrooms ready for the new year. Other parts of the nearly $20 million project will be finished later. The school expects the revamped auditorium to be ready by November and the band areas by January.
The contractor, Joliet-based Cosgrove Construction, is working crews two shifts, six days per week, school officials said. About 50 to 60 workers are on campus daily.
The construction contract contains penalties for lateness, but the contractor’s delays are considered justified under the agreement, officials said. Cold weather and an unavailable state inspector are cited as contributing to the delay.
Even at the end of the last school year, Walters said, the district knew upperclassmen would arrive a week later because of the construction. Students are issued Chromebooks so they can handle online assignments.
Under Illinois law, schools are supposed to be open 176 days per year. Walters said the school district has a waiver from that rule as long as it arranges to provide online instruction to students.
A spokeswoman for the Illinois School Board of Education said she has referred questions about whether Kankakee is meeting state law to the board’s attorney.