BRONXVILLE, N.Y. A late start for most students, a later start for kindergartners and no hot lunch for anyone are just a few of the consequences the Bronxville Schools community are dealing with following the flooding from Hurricane Irene
Bronxville kindergartners will start their first day of school on Sept. 19, almost two weeks after all the other students go back to school. Students in all other grades will begin school on Wednesday, a day later than planned. Teachers must report to school for a staff day on Tuesday.
The cafeteria will be open, but the kitchen was destroyed by flooding and will have to be replaced, so students will have to brown bag it for the forseeable future.
Superintendent David Quattrone made the recommendations and the Board of Education approved them at meeting held in Bronxville Village Hall Thursday.
Quattrone said there was extensive damage to three areas of the building: the lowest level, where kindergartners attend school; shared areas, such as cafeteria kitchen; and the gym floor, which could be seen in a heap on the side of the school on Tuesday.
This is the second floor that was destroyed by flood waters in the last four years. The first floor was destroyed by a Nor'easter in 2007.
Some 20 classrooms on the lower first two levels of the building were under as much as three feet of water.
Most of the classrooms belong to middle school students. Assistant Superintendent John Kehoe said that the rooms will open over the course of the first and second weeks of the school. Classrooms used for home and careers and shop may take a little longer to be ready.
There is no cost estimate for the damages yet but Assistant Superintendent of Business Dan Carlin said the district has three levels of insurance. First a likely $500,000 grant from FEMA, then a private insurance policy that will cover damages up to $5 million, and a second policy that covers anything above $5 million.
"I think we are going to be under the $5 million," Carlin told the board.
Workers have been working late into the night carrying out debris, and scrubbing and sanitizing non-porous items such as desks and chairs. Industrial engineers will go through the building testing the air quality and looking for mold before students are allowed back into the building, Kehoe said.
Parent Larry Winant attended the meeting to find out the fate of his tenth grader who attends the school.
"I am not worried that the district officials will put students into the building until they are safe," Winant said. "I am worried about the fact that the flooding may happen again."
Those same concerns were voiced by Board of Education members, who said they plan on learning from this experience and trying to figure out a way of preventing the flooding altogether.
Board of Education President Dr. Jim Hudson said that this meeting will be the first of many where the board assesses the damage, plans for future flooding and possibly figures out how the town can reach out to other communities in order to avoid possible floods in the future.
In the meantime, Hudson and Quattone urged parents to continue to check the school's website because the school opening timetable may change.
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