Park outside

This rendering of Park Elementary from the northwest shows a recent iteration of the planned renovation design. To accommodate construction on the renovation and make sure work is done by fall 2022, the 2021-22 school year will end earlier than usual.

The 2021-22 Hutchinson Public Schools calendar looks different than in past years due to changes necessary to accommodate renovations at Park Elementary and West Elementary.

“Our general contractor asked us if we could get out of school by May 20," Superintendent Daron VanderHeiden told the School Board this past week. "It wasn’t possible. ... So the best we could do is May 27. That’s a very early end of the school year for us. But the reason we needed to be out as early as possible is our contractors need access to Park Elementary as early as possible so all of that work is completed by the following fall.”

For students in fourth through 12th grade, all inclement weather days will be digital learning days. For kindergarten through third grade, all such days will be made up starting May 27. 

"This is not ideal," VanderHeiden said, noting there isn't room in the calendar for another approach.

The first day of school is Monday, Aug. 30, with no school on Labor Day, Sept. 6. The trimester will end Nov. 23, leading to an unusual week. There is no school Nov. 24-26 due to Thanksgiving. However, students in second and third grade will have no school that entire week, and no school the following Monday, Nov. 29. 

"That's going to be the week we move from Park Elementary into the new elementary school," VanderHeiden said. "Our second- and third-grade staff at that time will be packing up their current classrooms."

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, second- and third-grade students will return to school at Tiger Elementary, the new addition at West Elementary. If for some reason the building isn't ready, that would throw a wrench in the schedule. The project is currently on time and on budget, but poor weather can slow work.

On Dec. 22-23 there will be no school for fourth and fifth grade as those classrooms are moved into their new classrooms at Park Elementary. The normal holiday break is Dec. 24-31.

The final student day is May 26, and May 27 is the final work day for teachers. Various holidays and teacher work days are scheduled throughout the year as well.

Representatives from each building helped build the academic calendar in order to make it feasible, and to meet contractual and state requirements.

“When we got done, none of us really liked this calendar," VanderHeiden said. "But it’s necessary because of all the different working parts.”

All told, pre-kindergarten through first grade have 171 learning days. Fourth and fifth grade have 169 learning days. Ninth through 12th grade have 172 learning days. Second and third grade have 168 learning days. Sixth through eighth grade have 171 learning days. Ordinarily, there is a difference of one learning day between primary and secondary grade levels. The year is expected to be "clunky," VanderHeiden said, including with the timing of parent and teacher conferences.  Educators hope for a smoother transition than was possible during construction at Hutchinson High School when students learned amidst ongoing renovations.

The 2021-22 schedule can be found online at isd423.org/vidoc/21-22-academic-calendar.