Storm damaged school reopens with new year

A giant red bow was positioned on a wall across from the entrance, greeting students this morning as they walked into Park View Elementary School in Kings Park.

It was the first day of school all over again.

Park View reopened after being closed for repairs for about two months due to damage by superstorm Sandy, which blew off the top layer of the school's roof.

"It's given us a chance to kind of start over," said school principal Jeanne Devine. "Everybody has been so positive -- from the parents, to the teachers, to the children . . . that kind of can-do attitude has really allowed this project to be completed in a timely manner."

The school sustained water damage to its second floor classrooms, hallways, some smartboards, and computer room, some first floor hallways and the gym. The cost of the damage was about $2.7 million, said Kings Park Central District Superintendent Susan Agruso.

It included some repainting; replacing the entire roof, ceiling and floor tiles on the second floor, most electrical fixtures on the second floor and ceiling tiles in the cafeteria, first floor hallways and main office. A dozen computers in the library were replaced, as well as the second floor alarm system. The cost also included moving and cleaning materials, said officials.

"Anything that was wet, we got rid of," including teacher's and children's supplies, said Devine. "We don't even know at this point yet, exactly what's still missing, because they're just coming back now . . . So we're telling them to keep a running list of things that are missing."

Insurance covered most of the damage, said Agruso. The district will pay a $5,000 deductible and $81,000 for an extended warranty on the new roof, she said.

Work on the school started the day after Sandy hit and continued through December 31, when the Kings Park Fire Department inspected the premises, officials said.

"We worked double shifts every day -- from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.," said Philip Kenter, assistant superintendent for finance and administrative services. "That's how we got it done in two months."

While the work was being completed, Park View's roughly 500 students were split between two buildings. Kindergarten, first and second grade students were sent to San Remo -- a former elementary school on Lawrence Road that is being used as an administration building and partially rented by New Beginnings, a child-care center. Third grade students attended Ralph J. Osgood Intermediate School on Old Dock Road.

Teachers, staff and administrators worked to make the transition as seamless as possible, officials said.

"Everybody came together to help us out," said Devine, adding that several individuals made donations to the school.

At a school board meeting last month, it was announced that Miller Hill-Sand Lake Elementary School in Averill Park, N.Y. and Coosa Elementary School in Beaufort, S.C. were donating $1,655 and $338.75, respectively, to defray the cost of replacing library books lost to Sandy.

But on Wednesday, students were excited -- almost like the first day of school -- to get back to their usual surroundings, said Devine.

"They were hugging everybody and high-fiving," she said. "Park View is more than a school. It's more of a family . . . Learning has gone on. Teaching has gone on. Kids have continued to do what they do regardless of where they are, so school is not necessarily about the place. It's about the people and the community."

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