Darren Doyle, story and photos:
With the delay in the start of school for the 2020-21 year, complications with schedules were only a small part of the difficulties Edmonson County Schools faced when juggling the jobs and duties of those employed by the school system.
Due to COVID-19, Edmonson County schools had to change their calendar this year to start on September 8th. This was pushed back further by the governor's recommendation to delay in-person classes to September 28th; a recommendation that local school officials have said was anything but.
Superintendent of Edmonson County Schools Brian Alexander said that through these scheduling changes, one of the many complications that comes along with an overhaul of the school calendar is what to do with classified employees, such as bus drivers.
"Bus drivers are under contract to work a 185-day contract, which includes the days that are part of the change in the calendar," he said. "Our original calendar called for school to start August 5th, so what do we do? Most alternatives would cause a change in the employment status for these folks, such as a layoff, but this would affect their benefits, which we didn't want. So we decided to make campus improvements across the district. We've painted and pressure washed, and we hope to do landscaping and perhaps some parking lot repair."
Over a dozen school bus drivers were at Kyrock Elementary this morning painting the hallways of the building. The hallways were packed with workers rolling and brushing paint, with most everyone laughing and joking with one another.
Alexander said that the improvements made to schools for this school year are impressive but he wanted to stress that the spirit and attitude taken on by employees were more important than the work itself.
"I don't know of a single complaint or gripe," he said. "And they have done an outstanding job. I can't wait for parents and students to see their schools. Soon, Good Lord willing."
Bus drivers aren't the only ones working behind the scenes on tasks that are still necessary, despite the unsettled schedules. School cooks and other staff members have also been working together to accomplish good things at local schools as meal deliveries and kitchen work have been going strong for several weeks now.
"Our lunchroom staff worked from March 16th through the month of June to make sure the kids of Edmonson County were fed during the pandemic," Alexander said. "They started back in August and have been working every day since. These folks have worked extremely hard to take care of our kids."
Alexander said faculty, staff, and administration are usually the school workers that the public sees most, but it's important that folks remember other school workers as well.
"I've said many times that we have some of the best anywhere right here in Edmonson County," he added. "I wish everyone could see the amount of work that our employees accomplish for the kids of Edmonson County. Bus drivers, lunchroom staff, janitorial staff, maintenance, everyone here. It takes all of us to make our school system what it is and I'm very proud of that."