Montclair schools: We’re working ‘relentlessly’ to open on time, even after Ida
Despite damage to multiple Montclair public schools suffered in Ida, Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said Thursday night the district will work to get its buildings fixed in time for students to begin the school year as planned next week.
"I am confident that our Buildings and Grounds Department will remediate damages, and we will work relentlessly to open for in-person instruction on Sept. 9," Ponds said in the Thursday message to the school community.
The district maintenance and custodial staff are working in collaboration with outside cleaning companies, an arborist and an electrician, Ponds said.
"While we were not in Ida’s direct path, we certainly felt the brunt of her wrath," Ponds said in the message.
Montclair High School, Bradford School and Hillside School all suffered severe flooding. A tree also fell on Edgemont Montessori School. And l leak caused damage to a fire panel at the district's Developmental Learning Center.
At Bradford, the boiler room flooded an the electrical panel was damaged, Ponds said. Water has been pumped out of the building, and electricians are assessing damages, he said. They will update the district by the weekend. An outside agency will help clean and disinfect the area.
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At Edgemont, a tree fell at the back end of the gym. An arborist will cut the tree down tomorrow, and engineers will arrive tomorrow afternoon to check on the structure of the gym, Ponds said.
At Hillside, the ground floor flooded. The Montclair Township Fire Department pumped out water, and an outside agency will help clean and disinfect the area.
And at Montclair High, the basement and "the pit" — the auditorium's storage area — flooded. The fire department pumped out water, and an outside agency will help clean and disinfect the area.
“Worst I’ve seen in 30 years,” MHS head custodian Brian Bunk said Thursday while the fire department pumped out water.
In “the pit,” the storage area in the high school auditorium, the flooding was 3 feet high, Bunk said. There were also 4 to 5 inches of water in the rest of the building, he said.
"This was not the welcome letter I had in mind, but as you know mother nature cannot be controlled," Ponds said in the message. "My hope is that none of our families, students or staff were seriously injured as their safety is our utmost concern. I will be writing to you tomorrow with any new updates along with my 2021-22 welcome message as we are ready to begin anew."
Professional development was canceled for Montclair public school teachers Thursday as the district worked to assess the building damage, according to Montclair Education Association president Cathy Kondreck. Teachers returned just yesterday to begin preparing for students’ first day on Sept. 9.
Kondreck has not yet responded to a voicemail left Thursday night regarding building damages.
Ponds said the district is working closely with Montclair’s emergency team, Mayor Sean Spiller, Town Manager Timothy Stafford, Fire Chief John Herrmann and Deputy Fire Chief Brian Wilde, Police Chief Todd Conforti and Deputy Police Chief Will Young, and the Township Community Services Department.
The private Montclair Kimberley Academy had flooding at the Upper School campus, and the administration was working to resolve the issue, Head of School Nigel D. Furlonge said Thursday.
"We are sensitive to the impact this storm has had on MKA families and colleagues as well as on our neighbors and the community of Montclair," Furlonge said. "While we continue to prepare for the start of school next week, we extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who offered their assistance to those in need during this unprecedented weather event."
Immaculate Conception High School suffered no flooding or damage, Principal Michele Neves said.