If a Nor'easter hadn't struck the area this week, dropping 7 inches of snow and pulling down more trees and live wires, the Lynbrook School District planned to open its schools on Thursday and Friday despite the fact that one of its buildings still did not have power.
The substation that supplies electricity to Waverly Park Elementary School, a Lynbrook public school located in a section of East Rockaway that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, is down and the Long Island Power Authority does not expect it to be fixed any time soon. So Lynbrook school officials came up with a plan to have all Waverly students and faculty report to their school and then be bused to and from either West End or Marion Street elementary schools each day until the power was restored.
But during a special public meeting held by the Lynbrook Board of Education Thursday night to address concerns related to Hurricane Sandy, school officials revealed that Waverly Park did have power, not LIPA-supplied power, but rather electricity coming from a generator donated to the district by GDF SUEZ Energy N.A., a company that Christopher Clarke, Waverly Park PTA Co-President Yessi Clarke's husband, works for.
The company's operations manager, Marc Dowdy, tracked down the generator, and plant manager Michael Stockstad granted the approval for GDF to pick up the rental fee.
"Tremendous amount of appreciation needs to go out to Mr. Clarke and his company for bringing us the generator during the height of the storm last night," Interim Superintendent of Lynbrook Schools Dr. Melissa Burak stated Thursday.
The generator arrived at Waverly Park midnight Thursday and was installed later that morning by Clarke, Jim Richards and George Georgiadis.
"[It] is running at Waverly right now," Burak said, but explained, "We need to run it for the rest of the week just to be sure it can sustain a longer duration before we bring the students back to the building."
Lynbrook schools are closed Monday for Veterans Day but the district is planning to have all of its schools open Tuesday, Nov. 13. Dr. Burak and Board President Cathy Papandrew assured parents that the district would reach out to them well before Monday night to let them whether or not Waverly Park School will be ready to receive students.
"The safety of our students is always first and foremost, so once we feel comfortable and are ready to send the kids back to Waverly Park a Global Connect message will be delivered," Dr. Burak said.
, from Wednesday's Nor'easter forced Lynbrook to cancel classes Friday. During the past twoo weeks, students have missed nine scheduled school days. To help make up instructional days, Lynbrook school officials have decided to change April 29 from a staff-only day to a school day for students. It may also have to take back vacation days in February, but that has not been decided yet. (Nov. 8 was converted to a staff conference day so it does not count as one of the missed instructional days.)
Burak added, "We are waiting for a decision from the State Education Department on whether or not they will relax the 180 required days of attendance."
Check back later today for Part II of our coverage of Thursday night's board meeting to learn about what the district is doing for students displaced by Hurricane Sandy.