MHS Facilities Update (11.1.18)


 I hope all is well.

Yesterday, I sent the email below to share the information known at the time.  To that end, please allow this communication to supplement the email below. I will use a question and answer format to frame this email.

Question #1:  Why didn’t the update yesterday have more information?
Answer #1:  I wanted to ensure parents/guardians knew we were closing the stair tower.  Within minutes of closing the stair tower, messages to parents/guardians, media and others were sent.  Therefore, my hope was to share what I knew in that moment.  While some wanted more information, only the information that was available could be shared.  The options are to share nothing or to share what is known.  I will always choose the latter.  As we grow together, you will learn that I will always err on the side of safety.  If there was an issue with exiting the building, we would have closed the school.  Please remember this is exactly the same call made earlier in the year.  While I do not desire to close the school, I will not hesitate to do so if there is any concern for the safety of our students or staff.

Question #2:  What does compromised mean?
Answer #2:  The word compromised was used because I did not know the exact issue. All I knew was there were loose tiles on the one landing of stair tower #14.  I did not know, in that moment, if the issue was contained to only loose tiles.  We have examined and confirmed, once again, there are no structural issues with this stair tower.  We predict that tiles became loose due to increased traffic.  And, yes, we have checked all other tiles.  Yes, we have a protocol to check for loose tiles as the year progresses.

Question #3:  Is the stair tower safe?
Answer #3:  Yes, the stair tower is safe.  We used the tower today with the tower being closed only on one level.  We will re-open the entire stair tower tomorrow.  The repair this evening included stabilizing the loose tiles only.  It will not look pretty, but it will be safe.

Question #4:  Why didn’t the school/district plan for this repair?
Answer #4:  We did plan for the repair. We have a protocol in place to examine the stair towers.  This particular stair tower has beautifully decorated tiles, and we predicted increased traffic might result in a repair.  Our protocol went directly into play.  Again, this is a 104-year-old building.  The pleas of “just fix the stairs” are overly simplistic and do not reflect the authentic challenges of planning for repairs in a 104-year-old building. If this repair could just be fixed, we certainly would do so. Please review previous communications regarding the technical aspects of the repair.

Question #5:   Do the existing open stair towers have issues?
Answer #5:  We do not currently see any issues with the existing open stair towers.

Question #6:  Will the high school close to address this repair?
Answer #6:  The repair will occur during the evening hours and on the weekend.  We have no plan to close school.  Please do not listen to rumors.  If there will be a change to the schedule, a notice from the school will be sent.

Question #7:  What is the fire/emergency exit plan?
Answer #7:  The same fire/emergency exit plan is still in place.  The plan was reviewed today and approved for ongoing use.  We will continue to monitor our plan.  The safety of our students and staff are always our priority.

Question #8:  Why isn’t the school/district repairing the original stair towers in the Main Building over Thanksgiving or Winter break?
Answer #8:  Per a previous communication, the work associated with the repair will last between 4-6 weeks.  Once the walls are opened, we must complete the repair in a safe, fully-enclosed fashion.  We cannot finish the work in a week, so we cannot start the work.

Question #9:  What can I do to support my child during this process?
Answer #9:  Please remain calm.  If you have questions, please ask the appropriate district staff.  I speak frequently with our elected student leaders (seniors).  Students have a direct line to me via their senior presidents.  Furthermore, these leaders will begin meeting regularly with Principal Grosso.  Our students are watching us, and our disposition is critical in assisting to ease their concerns.

Question #10:  When will a structural analysis for each school in the district occur?
Answer #10:  The Superintendent will make a recommendation for a structural analysis plan at the November 7, 2018 Board Meeting.  The plan and timeline will be discussed then.

 With excellence, equity, social justice and access,
Dr. Kendra Johnson, Superintendent
Montclair Public Schools


Message sent on Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Happy Wednesday:

I hope all is well.

I am emailing to share a facilities update.  Today, we noticed a compromised area on the landing of stair tower 14 and exit 19.  The location is the stair tower leading to the second-floor science wing (stair tower directly in front of the Restorative Justice classroom). We closed the stair tower immediately.

We will assess, which includes plaster testing, contractor review and an architectural review.  We will share more details as soon as they become available.  Our tentative plan is to repair stair tower 14 on November 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11.

Have a great day!

With excellence, equity, social justice and access,

Dr. Kendra Johnson, Superintendent

Montclair Public Schools

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