Schools damaged by flood

Dehumidifying Montpelier High School.
By Michael Bielawski
While most schools throughout the state are facing relatively minor flood-relating damages, a small number are dealing with very substantial damages.

According to the Vermont Agency of Education, schools/districts with major impacts include:
East Meadow School, Orange East SU, Montpelier/Roxbury, Windham Northeast Supervisory Union, Brookhaven Learning Center, Mount Mansfield Unified Union School District (Supervisory), Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union, Orleans Central Supervisory Union, and St. Francis Xavier, a parochial school in Winooski.

Minor Impacts:
Washington Central Supervisory Union, Kingdom East Supervisory District, South Burlington Supervisory District, Okemo Mountain School, Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union, Neighborhood Schoolhouse, Caledonia Central Supervisory Union, Mt. Saint Joseph Academy, Two Rivers Supervisory Union, Mountain School at Winhall, , White River Valley Supervisory Union, Sheldon Academy, and Windsor Central Supervisory Union.

All schools are expected to be ready to open when the 2023-24 school year begins in late August, state school officials say. At today’s press briefing, school officials said they have no determination yet about possible mold damage.

Montpelier High School suffered a massive intake of water into their basement. The Brookhaven Treatment and Learning Center in Chelsea lost their entire gymnasium and more.

Even some of the schools that managed to keep their initial buildings and structures largely intact may still have daunting challenges ahead because schools are largely expected to take on for example homeless families and families with extra financial and/or transportation needs, those efforts will be greatly exasperated. The Orleans Central Supervisory Union in the Northeast Kingdom is dealing with such challenges.

School loses their whole gym
One school that did get significant initial damage is The Brookhaven Treatment and Learning Center which runs a residential treatment program for youth as well as a therapeutic school. Their program includes alternative education for children that do not perform as well in traditional settings and physical activity is a key component to their routines.

The Center’s Executive Director Rocky Spino spoke with VDC.

“This was big, we had a couple of playgrounds wiped out after the flood, just like others we had a lot of silt, mud, basement damage, and dirt debris that we had to have addressed,” he said. “And then our biggest loss by far is our pavilion, it is probably no more than ten years old, it is an iconic heavily utilized structure on our campus.”

The gymnasium had a basketball court, volleyball, and a rock climbing wall. He said early estimates are they could be at least a full year out before such a facility can be replaced, and that’s going to be a major unplanned cost.

Nonetheless, replacing it will be critical to regaining what they could offer.

“So not having that as a resource anymore is a big loss to our ability to run physical education curriculum and other kinds of recreational activities for the kids, and that building is just unreal,” Spino said. “It’s a massive building and it was just picked up by the water and the whole building moved down the stream.”

Community struggles are school struggles
Penny Chamberlin, the SuperIntendent of the Orleans Central Supervisory Union also spoke with VDC. She said that initially, their structures did not see the same dramatic damage as much of the rest of their community did. She noted that the Town of Barton’s water and drainage system were overrun which impacted the basement at the elementary school there.

However, because their community is struggling that’s going to create new challenges for the school, which so far has failed to qualify for certain state funding assistance.

“The impact on the families in those lower areas into Barton,” she said. “The businesses [too]… that’s going to take months until they reopen.”

She added, “The water came right up to the back doors of these homes. … I’m anticipating more folks being homeless.”

She said that there’s been some frustration around access to state support, with many people not having the online connectivity necessary to get critical forms and surveys completed, data that the state needs in order to know where resources are needed most.

“It’s very confusing and very frustrating that the state hasn’t provided a communications outpost in the area,” Chamberlin said.

Private sector help is at capacity
Both Chamberlin and Spino also alluded that private sector skilled contractors for both building repairs and outdoor landscaping were already stretched thin before the flood. Now they are further tied up in work just within their immediate communities and getting them to travel any substantial distances s a long shot at this stage.

Chamberlin said out-of-state workers have been offering their services to Vermont communities, but some folks are not privy to awareness about overcharges and scams. She suggested that it would be better if the state could help vet some of these offerings before they come to Vermont.

The author is a reporter for Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Categories: Education

3 replies »

  1. None of this bodes well for the weatherization programs to meet the demands of the affordable heat act. Looks like just getting the schools up and running, finding shelter for those who lost their homes, financial aid and rebuilding infrastructure will take precedence over the net zero boondoggle.

    • I agree. Some, however, believe that garbage price of legislation will prevent more floods. I don’t know…I see VT as being a test system for more online schooling bw flood damage and buildings containing toxic chemicals. It’s odd to me that they’re so concerned with chemicals in building materials in schools all of a sudden, yet not a peep about pesticide use on our crops (or all the “haze” in our skies this summer).

  2. The irony of schools being damaged by floods when they were all ready woefully damaged with diversity, climate cultists and perverts. Perhaps keeping students out of these damaged (mentally and now physically) buildings is the best way for children to be allowed to grow into normal, healthy, productive adults. Above all, allowed to be children free of abuse and criminal manipulation.