CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mid-July - the peak of summer break for most Kanawha County schoolchildren - looks like a calm time in education.
But the schools are still bustling with activity as employees rush to ready the county's facilities for the influx of students on Aug. 9, the earliest school start date in county history.
The early start date - which allows for the semester to end before Christmas break - meant a shorter summer break this year, by about two weeks. That may have prompted groaning from students countywide, but for the county's facilities personnel, the problems are more concrete.
"It's just less time to get everything done," said Maintenance Director Terry Hollandsworth. "We have several pages of things that we're working on."
A few projects have been pushed to next summer, when the calendar is expected to be more regular, and the summer break will be as long as usual.
But Hollandsworth stressed that nothing major is being put off. Instead, facilities employees are working nonstop to get the work done in the time they have. Lockers are being painted and gym floors refinished, all the normal maintenance projects that are done during the summer to avoid getting in the way of students' learning will be completed.
There are bigger projects too: At Overbrook Elementary in South Hills the computer lab is being relocated to help educators deal with crowding issues, and a few schools are getting entirely new gym floors.
The most massive undertaking though, Hollandsworth says, is a workaday one. This summer, as every other one, janitors are taking on the project of stripping and waxing all the floors in all of the county's schools.