Cresskill approves $21.6 million referendum measure to repair schools damaged by Ida

The media center at Cresskill Middle/High School was damaged badly by flooding. Shown on Friday Jan. 21, 2022. Voters will be asked to approve a referendum to fix the damage next week.

Cresskill voters overwhelmingly approved a $21.6 million proposal on Tuesday to make repairs to the middle and high school building, which was damaged during the remnants of Hurricane Ida in September.

Unofficial results show that 1,504 voted yes in the referendum and 196 voted no, Cresskill Superintendent Michael Burke said.

Since September, about 1,000 middle and high school students have been learning remotely the majority of the week. Two grades attend in person once every four days on a rotating schedule at the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church school in Cresskill.

“There is a lot of work behind us and a lot of work ahead of us, but right now what I feel is a great sense of relief,” Burke said. “I know our staff and the Board of Education are ready to do whatever we can to welcome students back to their schools in fall of this year.”

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Ida wreaked havoc on the Cresskill middle and high school building, which sits in a flood zone on Lincoln Drive. Several feet of water rose above the auditorium stage, destroying it and the gymnasium, the media center, desks and chairs.

Burke said the district may not need the full $21.66 million that was on the ballot, but the district had only one chance to request the funds.

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The funds will be spent gradually, Burke said, with bonds released as needed with "full transparency." The district already has plans to write purchase orders 20 days after the election, which is the deadline to contest the results.

Before the 20 days elapse, the district will start preparing paperwork so it is ready to be signed into action Feb. 14.

"This is the most time-efficient, cost-effective and reliable solution," Burke said. "We are laser-focused on getting the students back into school for the fall of 2022."

Franklin Lakes approves $20M

Residents approved a $20 million referendum measure for repairs in four Franklin Lakes schools.

The money was approved by 359 yes votes to 117 no.

The school board said there would be no change in taxes resulting from the spending because of another debt that will be fully paid off in 2022 and the use of capital reserve funds.

A facility assessment report in 2020 uncovered building issues and deferred maintenance items at the district's schools.

A prioritized list of urgent projects included HVAC system upgrades and boiler, window and roof replacements.

Kristie Cattafi is a local reporter for For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


Twitter: @KristieCattafi

This article originally appeared on Cresskill NJ approves $21.6M to repair storm-damaged schools