Garden City USD 457 school year to begin Aug. 31

Meghan Flynn
USD 457 superintendent Steve Karlin talks about the local Kansas Reading Roadmap program during a meeting earlier this month. The district's board of education decided Monday to have the 2020-21 school year begin on Aug. 31 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garden City USD 457’s Board of Education approved moving back the start date for the 2020-21 school year at its regular meeting Monday.

Originally the school year was supposed to start on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11.

The school year will now begin on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

Aug. 31 will be a half day of school with a morning session for elementary, fifth, seventh, ninth and 10th grades, as well as students new to the district.

Sept. 1 will be the first full day of school for all students.

Superintendent Steve Karlin said the board previously moved the start date from Aug. 10 and 11 to Aug. 17 and 18; howevera a couple of days later, Gov. Laura Kelly released an executive order delaying schools' reopening until after Sept. 8.

While the order ultimately wasn’t approved by the state board of education, it brought up the interest from board members of possibly delaying the start of the school year a little more, Karlin said.

“We really want to make decisions based on science and numbers and what's best,” he said. “It's certainly a politically charged question as well. There are parents that are ready to get their kids back to school, there are others that are cautious and not sure they're quite ready, we have teachers who are ready to get back and we have teachers who are concerned about safety.”

A survey was sent out to teachers and 70% of the respondents preferred to have some sort of delay, Karlin said.

There are some concerns about the ramifications of the delay on part-time employees’ payments, because they’re paid for the work they did the previous month, as well as contracts for employees because the school year would be extended into June.

The board will vote on a school calendar for the rest of the school year at its July 30 meeting.

In other business, the board heard a presentation on the plan for the 2020-21 school year operations in relation to COVID-19.

The board will also vote on that plan at the July 30 meeting.