Classes for all Greene County schools are scheduled to resume on an abbreviated schedule on Friday morning and on a full-time basis on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
During the late-morning visit, Dr. Joe Parkins, director of Greene County's schools, and Mike Williams, a former West Greene history teacher who is Ottway's new principal, led Eddie Malone, the county school board's vice chairman, and board members Lena Ensor, Claude Weems Jr. and Bobby Wells on a tour of the school.
While the tour was in progress, the school's faculty, and that of West Pines Elementary, took part in an in-service training program in Ottway Elementary School's cafeteria, which Parkins said will double as the school's library until a new classroom wing is completed.
Construction On Schedule
Eddie Elder, the job superintendent for Construction Plus Inc., the school system's construction management firm, said Wednesday that construction of the new classroom wing remains on schedule for completion in early December.
But Elder added that meeting the projected completion date hinges on the project not experiencing delays due to wet weather until the new classroom wing can be covered under a roof.
On Wednesday, masons from Knoxville-based Odom Construction were laying the concrete blocks that will form one of the new classroom wing's main corridor walls.
Some parents of Ottway students recently have expressed concerns that conditions might be too crowded at the school when classes resume on Friday for the 2004-05 school year.
But during the tour, both Williams and Parkins maintained that there will be more than adequate space for students at the school until the construction project is completed.
In response to a question from board member Ensor, Williams said the school "absolutely" would be ready to receive students when classes resume on Friday morning.
Ottway Elementary School's building is smaller now than it was last August because its "old" classroom wing, where mold was discovered twice during the last school year, was demolished in late spring to make way for a new classroom wing.
Ottway students and teachers had been moved in early March of the 2003-04 school year to the former Chuckey-Doak High School building in Tusculum while mold-abatement efforts and environmental testing were in progress at Ottway Elementary.
But the former high school is reopening on Friday as Chuckey-Doak Middle School, and the Ottway students and teachers are returning to Ottway Elementary for the fall term.
Principal Williams said on Wednesday that he expected about the same number of students at Ottway Elementary this year as were at the school last year.
"I don't know where they (any more students) would come from," Director of Schools Parkins interjected.
A handout distributed during the tour estimated the number of students expected at 261. Williams said the school will have 15 teachers when classes resume.
A grade-by-grade listing of anticipated student totals showed the following:
• kindergarten, 25 students two teachers;
• 1st grade, 28 students and two teachers;
• 2nd grade, 19 students and one teacher;
• 3rd grade, 24 students and one teacher;
• 4th grade, 32 students and two teachers;
• 5th grade, 36 students and two teachers;
• 6th grade, 30 students and two teachers;
• 7th grade, 31 students and one teacher; and
• 8th grade, 36 students and two teachers.
But space constraints resulting from the demolition of the old classroom wing are requiring that classes in some grades be taught in one classroom by teams of two teachers using "team-teaching" techniques, according to Principal Williams.
He said grade-levels in which two classes and two teachers will occupy a single classroom are the first grade, the fourth grade and the sixth grade. The first and fourth grades will be housed in the "intermediate" section of the main school building, while the sixth grade will be located in one of three mobile classroom units located outside the main building.
Dr. Parkins said one more teacher is budgeted for the school, if needed.
After Wednesday's tour, the participating school board members seemed to agree that space would be adequate when classes began for the fall term.
Malone, the board's vice chairman, was the most direct. "There is no problem here," he said after the tour.
Board member Ensor said that the building appeared to be in good shape for the start of school. She thanked Parkins and Williams for the school tour, saying it would enable her to answer questions from parents.
"I don't see an intolerable situation here whatsoever," Dr. Parkins said at the conclusion of the tour.
The Wednesday morning tour began in the portion of the school completed in 1998. Principal Williams said the three classrooms there will be occupied by two eighth-grade classes and one seventh-grade class.
From there, the tour moved outside to three mobile classroom units. The newest, and largest, of the three is set to house 25 kindergarten students, according to Principal Williams.
The other two mobile classroom units will house 30 sixth-graders and 20 third-graders, respectively, the principal said.