From counting textbooks, cutting grass and exterior painting, Jefferson County Public Schools teachers and staff members spent most of Tuesday getting their classrooms and buildings ready for the first day of school.

Approximately 97,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade will return to their classrooms Wednesday from summer break. An additional 4,400 preschoolers will return Aug. 26.

"I would say this time last week, if you had come in, our building looked a little bit different," said Jennifer Cunningham, a kindergarten teacher at Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School. "We had some hard hat zones going on and our desks were arriving and our furniture was finally arriving but I would say at this point I feel ready."

The opening of Alex R. Kennedy will be among the most-watched changes as the 2015-16 school year begins. Last summer, the school board voted to convert the building from an alternative middle school back into an elementary school to help ease overcrowding concerns in eastern Louisville.

Michael Raisor, chief operations officer for JCPS, said all of the district's schools will be ready -- including Fern Creek High, Southern High and Schaffner Elementary School, three schools that had major renovations over the summer.

"We have a few things coming down to the wire, but that is typical for a large renovation project," Raisor told WDRB News on Tuesday. "We had a shorter summer with all of the snow days from last year and we had uncharacteristically heavy rain during the summer. However, we will have our own housekeeping and maintenance staff on-site overnight to make sure everything is looked over and ready."

At other schools that did not have major renovations, workers put the finishing touches on exteriors and interiors.

Many students and parents were down to the wire as well on Tuesday.

Between last minute eye exams, supplies shopping, hair appointments, getting students ready for back to school is a community effort.

"I worked all day yesterday trying to get the kids in and out and today I plan on working all around the clock, trying to make sure they leave here feeling and looking their best.  It’s all about building their confidence and their self-esteem," said Tracey Edmonds of Inspire Hair Salon.

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WDRB business reporter Samantha Chapman contributed to this report.

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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