Ravaged by Ida, Cresskill students going back to school for first time in over 2 years following $21M referendum
Cresskill students are finally going back to class inside their high school and middle school for the first time in over two years.
The town approved a $21 million referendum for repairs after Tropical Storm Ida inundated the school with 3 feet of water -- destroying it and leaving it unsafe.
Days before they finally open, it's being used as storage. So, while the auditorium won't be ready, most of the classrooms will.
“Flooring is in for the entire school, which was critical because that really is your first step in order for kids to be able to return to the building,” says Superintendent Michael Burke.
Burke says it's going to be ready for the first day. He says the majority of the approved referendum money went to new boilers, univents and energy recovery units. Those were all wiped out by Ida, and they're needed to heat and cool the classrooms.
“The desks are new. The chairs are new,” says Burke. “These are desks and chairs from 20 years ago, so they'll see some upgrades throughout the building.”
But more importantly, students will just be able to see their peers.
“What they said in the beginning was, Mr. Burke if we didn't have COVID, if we weren't coming off of a year and a half of the COVID struggles - still probably would have been a little more palatable,” says Burke. “But we were. We were not in the building on any regular basis since March of 2020.”
Now two years and $21 million of funding later, students will be allowed inside their school.
“You can't put a price on the interaction day to day of kids with their peers,” says Burke.
Burke says this will be a celebration.
“Life is about celebrations,” says Burke. “We will be back in September. I'm sure when we hit November maybe it will feel normal again. But we miss it, we miss each other, and it is a small community and it's a family.”
The cafeteria will be open, but the kitchen will not. Local businesses and food trucks will be providing hot food.
The media center will not be ready yet, but will have all new computers, smart boards, sitting and meeting areas.