Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited P.S. 195 (131 Irwin Street) in Manhattan Beach this afternoon, touting the city’s snappy repairs and the return to school of thousands of students across the city.
The elementary school was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, flooding its hallways with several feet of water and rendering its 70-year-old boiler system inoperable. The Department of Education, working with the janitorial and school engineering unions, pumped out hundreds of gallons of water and installed an emergency boiler over the past week, prompting the mayor to declare, “This school’s in good shape.”
However, other schools in Zone A evacuation zones did not fare so well. Nearby I.S. 98 Bay Academy (1401 Emmons Avenue) remains closed with heavy damages, as do schools like Mark Twain Junior High School (2401 Neptune Avenue), John Dewey High School and P.S. 277 Gerritsen Beach. As of this writing, 23 schools in Brooklyn remain closed.
“Some of these schools we could not get open and those students we’re going move to other schools if things aren’t fixed by Wednesday,” Bloomberg said.
Still, 94 percent of schools are open today, according to Bloomberg, and the preliminary attendance estimate is 86 percent.
“That’s about the same as the Monday before election day as last year, and we didn’t have Sandy last year, so that’s great,” Bloomberg said.
There are 16 more schools that are still being used as emergency shelters, which the city intends to relocate by Wednesday – although they acknowledged that won’t be the case for every location.
Chancellor Walcott noted that the system’s 8,000-strong school bus fleet was largely undamaged, and 7,400 buses were on the streets today. Metrocards were also distributed to students staying at the city’s emergency shelters.
On Wednesday, even more students are expected to return to school as those in relocated institutions are shuttled to other schools. For that, the mayor referred to today’s transportation situation as a “dry run.”
“In the context of trying to move lots and lots of kids, it was a relatively successful first day. We’re going to look at what works and what didn’t work,” he said.
Bloomberg added that there will be buses at closed schools on Wednesday for those families who didn’t get the news that their school was closed.