Life will return to normal for students, parents and educators of Brookside Place when the elementary school opens its doors on Monday.
Superintendent of Schools Gayle Carrick announced that the finishing touches are being completed and that the school will reopen next week. The school has been closed since floodwaters from Hurricane Irene ripped through the building in late August, causing extensive damage. School officials were forced to close the building and send students to other schools in the district, as well as Washington Elementary School in Garwood.
"I am pleased to announce that we are in the final reconstruction phases," Carrick said in a letter to Brookside parents.
The reconstruction was a massive undertaking that included replacing floors, walls and the electrical system, as well as other improvements. In November, Carrick announced that restoration of the electrical system would be delayed by a search for hard-to-find parts and equipment. The electricity was restored to the building in late December.
Most interior walls had to be torn down, replaced and several rooms were given fresh coats of paint. Ceiling tiles were replaced and new light fixtures installed. In addition, new custom benches were built for for the All-Purpose Room and the coatroom area next to the kindergarten classroom.
As the district prepares to reopen Brookside, Carrick commended everyone — from students and parents to educators in Cranford and Garwood — for their patience and determination to making things as normal as possible for the displaced students.
"It has been a long six months, but together we have accomplished much and have grown stronger together as a community," Carrick said. "Spring celebrations are scheduled to showcase the re-opened, beautiful Brookside Place School to the community so we may gather together in good times after the storm."
According to Carrick, students will return to Brookside in a two-part phase-in:
- Monday: First- and second-graders Students in grades one and two, currently attending Washington School in Garwood will start school at 8:35 at Brookside Place School. Regular school hours for Brookside Place School are 8:35 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
- Monday, March 5: Kindergartners and second-through-fifth-graders presently attending classes at Bloomingdale, Hillside, Livingston and Orange Avenue schools are expected to arrive at BPS at 8:35 a.m. Morning kindergarten will dismiss at 11:15 a.m.; afternoon kindergarten students are expected to arrive at school at 12:15 p.m.
"Quality instruction will remain in place for all students from the last day at their assigned schools through the first day back at BPS," Carrick added.
In addition, transportation will remain in place for students until they return to Brookside Place School, according to the superintendent. Here's the schedule:
- Friday will be the last day of transportation to and from Washington School for first- and second-grade students.
- Friday, March 2 will be the last day of transportation for kindergarteners and second-through-fifth-grade students.