Administrators from Manchester's school district thanked those who helped get students — including some from other districts — back to class quickly after Hurricane Sandy struck the area.
Manchester schools were able to reopen a week after the powerful storm hit and left many in the township without power for days. Though the decision to reopen while some residents remained in the dark was met with concern from parents, Board of Education President Donald Webster said that it was the right decision.
"As it turned out, I think we did our due diligence. I think we consulted with the professionals and if I had to make the decision all over again I think I'd do exactly what we did," he said during the board's regular November meeting Wednesday night. "I think it was good for the staff and the students to get back into our schools."
Manchester Township Elementary School Principal Marge Stevens said that the first day back post-Sandy was "very emotional" for her students, especially since the storm's toll on them was evident.
"It was interesting to note that many of the kids when they returned continued to wear their coats in the classroom because they were afraid they were going to stay warm," she said. "But we reassured the children that they could take their coats off. It was really a good thing to open up, for the children to come back into the building and have some normalcy."
With displaced families seeking shelter with family in Manchester, the township's school district is now nine students larger.
"Anybody who's displaced, we accept them," Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway said.
Kevin Burger, director of Student and Administrative Services, said that six of those students are elementary level, one is in middle school and two are out of district placements.
"They were taken in from Seaside, Silver Bay Elementary, Toms River and Central Regional," Burger said.
"The decision is where best to continue their education," Trethaway said. "If it looks like an eight or nine month stay, then they will probably best be suited here in Manchester."
A warming station for those without power following Sandy was opened at MTES from Thursday, Nov. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 4 before being moved to the Manchester First Aid and Rescue Squad headquarters.
"The bottom line was it was a big help for those people," said Trethaway, who thanked Manchester's Office of Emergency Management, police department and the school staff who volunteered their time to help. Some teachers came to help just having heard that the warming station had been opened.
"That tells you something about our staff," the superintendent said.
Transportation and maintenance personnel worked in the aftermath of Sandy at a cost to the district, but Business Administrator Craig Lorentzen attended a Federal Emergency Management Agency meeting on Wednesday and said that 75 percent of those payments should be reimbursed.
"We're in the process of putting that information together," Lorentzen said. He estimated that the district spent roughly $15,000 in the wake of Sandy.
Administrators said that Manchester Township Middle School will reopen on Monday, Nov. 26. Rather than have an early dismissal on Wednesday, Nov. 21, students will have a full day because of the split schedule accommodating middle school students at Manchester Township High School.