HOBOKEN-Last week, the Reporter wrote a story on parents of displaced Pre-K children who have been walking lengthy distances since Sandy. The HOPES preschool program, a state funded program, lost their classrooms in the basement of Connors Primary School, after Connors lost its cafeteria and basement in the superstorm. Parents have been walking their children to Brandt school in the meantime, and raised concerns over transportation and transparency. Parents wanted busses for their children and better communication on where the recovery of Connors stands. By press time, Dr. Mark Toback was unable to be reached. However, Toback has since issued a statement regarding the situation.
“Much of what takes place in every school district is based in existing law(s) and requirements. Decisions about student transportation are not an exception,” Toback said in an email. Superintendent Toback also provided the state code documents which outline the requirements for transportation.
“Students must live two miles away from school to qualify for transportation. Also any school district providing transportation when not required, must do so for all students. It is not a matter of unfair treatment or lack of concern for parents and students. The BOE and administration is very sympathetic to the many problems created for so many residents due to Hurricane Sandy.”
The NJ code states that high school students must live beyond two and a half miles and elementary school students must live beyond two miles in order to be considered “remote from the school of attendance”, the requirement for providing transportation.
Toback also addressed the progress of Connors school.
“We were hoping things would have moved a little faster. The total damage to Connors was between $600,000 and $700,000. We’ve seen a lot of good intentions expressed, but ultimately we have not seen the checks. Construction started this week on the cafeteria, some of the work cannot be seen from the windows like the electrical work and plumbing. There are structural issues that need to be remediated. What doesn’t make sense is to put these children back into classrooms of a building that historically gets flooded.”