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Thursday, August 21, 2014
Albany must help with local school repairs
(Page 2 of 3)

In Island Park, the situation was even worse. Both schools lost their boilers, the gym in the Lincoln Orens Middle School was destroyed and the damage to the cafeteria, auditorium and chorus rooms was extensive. The Francis X. Hegarty School most likely will not reopen this year. The district lost all of its musical instruments, and its offices had to be moved to a BOCES building.

Few of the buildings in the East Rockaway School District escaped without severe damage. The high school was flooded, and saltwater all but destroyed the boiler and the electrical system. A sink hole opened behind the high school’s new addition, ruining an electrical transformer. The Rhame Avenue School sustained first-floor flooding and it, too, lost its boilers. Its gym floor and classroom tile floors needed replacement.

Other districts experienced similar, truly once-in-a-lifetime losses.

Paying for all of the restoration work is something the children, obviously, have no control over. Unfortunately, the school administrations and Boards of Education can’t do much, either, without financial help.

Money from insurance policies, and from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be available at some point to fund part of the recovery. But it’s likely that property owners in the most damaged districts will be called on to pay for what loans and other sources of funds don’t cover. Districts with the worst damage are in communities where homes and businesses suffered the heaviest losses as well.

So many schoolchildren in these districts experienced the trauma of being evacuated from their homes, living in motels or with relatives far from their friends, losing their precious possessions and, in some cases, learning that they could never return to the houses in which they grew up. It is unfair to expect their parents and other residents to suffer even more by paying higher taxes to repair their schools.

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