Cresskill voters approve $21 million referendum to repair school destroyed by Ida

Cresskill voters have approved a plan to get students back into their classrooms.
The students have been mostly learning remotely ever since Ida destroyed Cresskill High and Middle School in September. None of the 52 classrooms, auditorium or other offices survived.
“The building was destroyed by water, and there were no available spaces. Two to 3 feet of water was throughout the building,” says Superintendent Michael Burke.
Insurance will only cover the initial cleanup. Cresskill voters approved a $21 million referendum Tuesday night to help pay for the rest of the repairs. Much of it will be covered by FEMA and the state. Taxpayers are being asked to foot some of the bill.
“If we use all $21 million, the tax implication is $83 per year for an average house assessed in Cresskill,” Burke says.
Some repairs have already been made. But some large repairs remain, including replacing all four boilers.
“Water came in from outside and filled this pit…the water came up to your waist,” Burke says.
They also need to replace the univents in each classroom that heat, cool and clean the air. They are how the water got in during Ida.
“The water filled up to the window, and water kept coming through this vent and out into the hallway,” says Burke.
The district is also working with the Army Corps of Engineers to keep it from happening again. A temporary fix will be put up in the meantime.
“We will put flood guards up outside… so every time there is a rain event, they will slide them in,” Burke says.
The district hopes to start the new phase of work within the next month. The plan is to reopen the school next September.
Northvale's Zoning Board approved on Tuesday night the use of a church educational center so all Cresskill students can go back in person, full time until their school is repaired.
Cresskill students have been mostly virtual, rotating by grade for in-person learning at a smaller parochial school.