Lawrence High School students and staff not only returned from spring break on Wednesday, but also planned to come back to their Reilly Road building after attending classes in the middle school for nearly three months, following an electrical system failure.
Flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy resulted in the corrosion of the high school’s electrical wiring, which compelled district officials to close the building on Jan. 16. All 975 high school students attended class at Lawrence Middle School, and fifth-graders relocated to the Number Five School and sixth-graders went to the Number Two School to accommodate the displaced high school students.
“During this relocation, other places had to be found and people and equipment had to be moved,” said Chris Milano, the district’s facilities director, adding that flooding is a unique disaster to school districts. “You use your crisis management skills and fill up your toolbox as time goes on.”
While students enjoyed their spring break, district employees and the Yonkers-based Smart Move combined forces and moved desks, chairs, teaching materials and other equipment from the middle school to the high school and from the two elementary schools to the middle school last week. The cost of the moving company, approximately $12,000, is included in the district’s Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement submissions, Superintendent Gary Schall said. FEMA is expected to cover 75 percent of all Sandy-related reimbursements, with the remaining 25 percent split between the district and the state. The cost of repairing the high school is estimated at $8 million.
The district decided to open the high school this week after lengthy discussions with several groups, including the PTA and the Lawrence Teachers Association, according to Schall. It would “be the smoothest transition it can be and with no disruption to instruction,” he said.