Montclair Schools Superintendent To Recommend Keeping Main Building Open Through Graduation

Montclair Schools Superintendent Kendra Johnson is recommending to the BOE that the district keeps the high school main building open through graduation, which would mean abandoning the proposed May 20 transition plan, a plan many parents opposed in an online petition.

Johnson announced the following in an email to parent today. Below, the full text of Dr. Johnson’s email:

Greetings Montclair High School Community:

As promised I am writing to inform you of the plan for Montclair High School on May 20, 2019. We honor and respect your voices and concerns and to that end, I have elected to recommend to the Board that we keep the high school open through graduation day. All asbestos removal and repair work would then commence on June 27, 2019. For your consideration, please note:

We are thankful to the Montclair High School administrators (and select staff who provided feedback) for the May 20, 2019 transition plan. The innovation contained within the proposal is commendable. Further, a special thank you is extended to Montclair State University, the Montclair Film Festival, the Montclair Ambulance Unit and our thoughtful teachers who created responsive electives for the May 20, 2019 transition plan.

A special thank you is extended to our parents/guardians who created and proposed another schedule for May 20, 2019.

For graduation 2019, we will be able to have the auditorium available for the rain date, if needed. I respectfully ask that all do the sun dance so our amazing seniors are able to cross the bridge as we plan for a traditional graduation in the amphitheater.

Given an already complicated school year, we want to reduce the inconvenience to Montclair High School students and staff further and retain as much normalcy for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year.

In order to achieve the above, in addition to recommending to the Board that we remain open through June 26, I am recommending the following actions at the May 16, 2019 Board Meeting:

Rescind the contract awarded on April 15, 2019.
Re-advertise the bid on May 17, 2019.
Award a new contract at the first Board Meeting in June 2019 with a start date of June 27, 2019. In the new bid, we will have specifications with an eight-week repair timeline.

With the understanding that there could be some unforeseeable occurrences when the repairs commence, we will preplan as follows:

Extend the contract for the eight relocatable classrooms for six months.
Schedule a meeting with the local fire officials to ascertain how many classrooms on the third floor we could access if we have only two or three of the stair towers repaired by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

As noted above, the goal will be to have all four stair towers repaired; however, it is critical that we manage expectations given the unforeseeable nature of repairs in a 100+ year-old building. We will be sharing more information soon detailing what the plans will be if the four staircases are not finished by the beginning of the school year.

Thank you for your active and rich engagement. We are a community that has and will continue to work through textured and complex moments together.

Kendra Johnson, J.D., Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools

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