Watch CBS News

1,000 Cresskill Students Still Learning Remotely Months After Ida Destroyed School

CRESSKILL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- One thousand Bergen County middle and high schoolers are still learning virtually after Hurricane Ida destroyed their school months ago, and some parents worry their kids won't be back to the classroom next school year.

Eleven-year-old Hannah Barrs was supposed to be starting her first year of middle school in person, but she's still stuck behind a computer.

"It's just been, like, really frustrating because last year was virtual and then this year was supposed to be the first year of middle school," she told CBS2's Meg Baker.

"I think it's incredibly surprising that three months out, we're sort of still at square one," Hannah's mom Sarah Burrs said.

The Cresskill Middle/High School building was completely destroyed by Hurricane Ida. More than three feet of water had to be pumped out. Three and a half months later, the major fixes have not been made.

READ MORE: Cresskill, NJ Middle And High School Students Will Start Year Remotely After Shared Building Suffers Severe Flood Damage

"To restore the building is $20 million. We have yet to secure the financing to just start that order. Once we start it, we're still three or four months away from the building being ready for students to come in," superintendent Michael Burke said.

The superintendent says there is no chance of getting into the school this school year but is hopeful with a referendum things can be ordered and fixed before September.

The referendum vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 25.

"It would be about $68 per year on each of the taxpayers, and 20 days later, once it passes, we can then get that money and start writing checks to get the resources that we need to get school back up," Burke said.

Parents are fearful that if it doesn't pass, next year could be interrupted.

"What do you want to say to voters in the town who don't have kids in school?" Baker asked parents.

"Oh, please, please please please, just realize that it's not just the school. The schools are what drive your property values also," one parent said.

"It's been an incredibly difficult year, especially coming off of the sort of COVID-related disruptions," father Daniel Nemet-Mejat said.

Some question why the state hasn't stepped in. The superintendent says there are school purchasing laws that have to be followed to be reimbursed by FEMA.

"We've had our team, the Department of Education, Treasury, we've had a veritable army on this, and it's complicated, unfortunately," Gov. Phil Murphy said.

A short-term solution is in the works -- a temporary site for all 1,000 students to go to five days a week is being negotiated.

Parents say they plan to attend the borough council meeting Wednesday night to continue to raise their concerns.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.