Northern Cambria classes to resume

NORTHERN CAMBRIA – Extensive flood damage that gave Northern Cambria School District pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade an extended Labor Day vacation should be repaired enough to allow classes to resume Monday, although some will be moved to temporary classrooms.

“We have a number of cleaning activities still taking place in this building,” said interim Superintendent Rodney Green Thursday, speaking to a reporter over the dull roar of a cleaning machine. “The areas that were affected by the flooding are still under repair.”

More than 300 kindergarten through second-grade students whose classrooms were affected by damage will use temporary classrooms, Green said.

First-grade students will report to the auditorium and second graders will go to the gymnasium. Dividers will separate the spaces into individual classrooms.

The four kindergarten classes also will be moved. Teachers will use the school’s art room, an extra kindergarten room, a converted faculty room and a learning-support classroom. Art and physical education teachers and others affected by the switch, will go class-to-class to conduct lessons, Green said.

This setup is expected to last for at least the next two to three weeks until classrooms can be restored, but hopefully no more than a month, Green said. And as rooms are completed, teachers can begin moving back.

Green still doesn’t have an estimate on the damage, but an insurance adjuster arrived Wednesday and gave administrators permission to start working with drywall, carpeting and painting contractors.

Clearing out the water, drying and disinfecting the school is about $200,000.

“It’s going to be a much higher [cost], but we kind of expected that,” he said. “We need to get contractors in here quickly, and we need to get companies in here with large cleaning crews.”

School officials are also working on ways to make up the four lost days.

Green said Department of Education officials told him the district must find a way to make up Tuesday’s class time, since both buildings were closed, but Wednesday through Friday can be made up at the elementary-middle school by adding time to daily instruction, rather than adding entire days to the school year.

Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said Tuesday that elementary students require 900 hours of instruction per school year; since elementary-middle school students receive six hours of instruction in a normal day, Green said teachers have 18 hours to make up.

“If you look at a 180-day school year – if you add one minute to the instructional day in some fashion, that one minute over the year is equal to six hours,” Green said. “We still have over 170 days of school to complete.”

Tuesday will be made up using either an Act 80 or teacher in-service day.

“We’re not going to be dropping any instructional time out of their child’s schedule,” Green said, and “children are going to continue to get the same level and quality of instruction that they had before.”

And while kids are “pretty resilient” and will be able to handle the change well, Green said, they may also be dealing with flooded homes and school will provide them some normalcy.

“It’s important to get them back to school,” Green said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.