Though Lincoln Orens is habitable, it’s far from perfect. The auditorium, gym, cafeteria and chorus room all suffered water damage. There is already a new floor in the cafeteria, Bovino said, so students will have a place to eat. Work is being done in the other rooms. There will be no usable gym for six weeks because the floor was damaged. The building will also be generating its heat with a temporary boiler, since the main boiler was destroyed.
“We want the children in school,” Bovino said. “It’s warm. We have food for them. It’s safe.”
She added that the district, with the help of Transportation Director Marion Toby, had worked out new bus routes. If children evacuated to another town within 50 miles of Island Park, Bovino said, it is the school’s responsibility to provide busing for them.
Electricity was a concern, Bovino said — not to power the school buildings, but for the stop lights. “I can’t put buses on the roads if there are no traffic lights,” she said, explaining that she did not want to endanger students.
If the traffic lights were not in operation by Wednesday, she said, buses would not run. But there would still be classes.
Island Park teachers volunteered their time and went house to house, finding out just how many students were still here. They identified 178 students who will be returning to school. Bovino also went to shelters in search of students. According to Bovino, 193 of the district’s 760 children have left.
She also said that parents do not need to bring their children back to Island Park for school if they have evacuated. Under state law, parents can enroll them in school in the district in which they are currently living.
Tempers flared at times during the meeting, but most of the residents who attended appeared to be thankful that Bovino and the school board were getting students back to class.
There will be no early-morning or after-school care for now, Bovino said, although the district is working with the JCC to try to provide after-school care. There will also be no early or late buses.
High school students will also go back to class if the buses are running.