By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Montclair High School students will get a three-hour study hall when the school closes for asbestos removal and stairwell repairs on May 20, according to a newly released schedule.

Students will have three hours of classes each day, and a three hour study period. Although students will be offered an option of taking extra enrichment classes and workshops during study hall, parents and students are not happy with the three hours total of class time, compared to the roughly six hours of class time under the current schedule.

Parent Brian Herman told the BOE at its April 15 meeting he was disappointed with the arrangement, and said three hours of teaching would not be adequate to give the students a complete education for the last month of the school year.

Herman said that the students did not deserve, nor want to sit in a gym with 800 other kids for a three-hour study hall.

“We are failing our kids. This is not okay,” he said. “Do something else. Make sure our kids get the education they deserve.”

A standard day at Montclair High School has nine periods, eight of which are offered between the first bell and dismissal. A ninth period is offered after dismissal for students participating in extracurricular activities or meeting with a teacher for tutoring or other help. Each class period runs for approximately 44 minutes.

Four stairwells have been shut down since the beginning of the school year after one stairwell partially collapsed on Sept. 7, and three others were found to be in need of rebuilding.

The asbestos removal has to be done before crews can demolish and rebuild the four staircases in the original section of the high school.

With the main school building closed, students are being moved largely into the George Inness Annex across the street.

Most of the seniors will be off-campus from May 20, on internships opportunities as part of their senior option. About 1,700 out of the high school’s 2,087 students are expected to remain on campus.

MHS laid out the plan for May 20 onward, in a meeting that MHS Principal Anthony Grosso held with families last week.

Superintendent Kendra Johnson told Montclair Local she could not answer specific questions about the structure of the classes until a document with the details is released to parents.

Parents said the study hall periods would be times when their children could take “connection labs,” courses on writing college application letters, social-emotional health, and other topics.

The day will be divided into four hour-and-a-half periods, with an hour-long lunch break at 10:45 a.m. Two of those periods will be for academics, totaling three hours a day. The remaining three hours will be spent in study hall.

Students are also being divided into two groups, A and B.

At the April 15 Board of Education meeting, parents voiced fears that students would not be getting a full day’s worth of instruction. The amount of time that students would spend in study hall was especially a concern.

Johnson said the district was not yet at the point where anything had been officially nailed down.

The district awarded a bid for the staircase work to South Orange-based Drill Construction, for a sum of $1,529,000. As a result, however, the schools will also have to withdraw an additional $79,000 from the capital reserve fund to cover additional costs. The anticipated remaining balance of $1,450,000 allotted for in the township’s ordinance fell short.

In the first round of bids the district received four, but had to eliminate them, one because the paperwork was incomplete, and the other three because they were over the district’s budget.

The asbestos removal work is expected to take from May 20 to July 1, and the stair reconstruction is expected to take from July 2 to Aug. 23.