February 21, 2014 at 1:58 PM
SPARTA, NJ - Sparta schools were back in session Thursday. Concerns about the integrity of the school buildings' roof structures had closed all district schools midday on Tuesday.
The heavy snow load seemed to have caused the roof to buckle in one classroom at the Helen Morgan school. All buildings were inspected by the district's engineer and found to be sound. District custodians, maintenance workers and even Sussex county jail inmates, worked to shovel snow off the roofs. Work was done in the classroom in Helen Morgan to temporarily support the compromised structure.
In a statement from Superintendent Dennis Tobin, he said, "This classroom, under the direction of our school engineer, has been constructed with temporary supports until we can design and implement a permanent structural solution. This classroom will be closed to students and staff until this permanent solution is in place."
It has been a challenging winter for district students and staff. Just last Thursday and Friday, Feb. 13 and 14, Sparta schools were closed when another snow storm dumped nearly two feet of snow and ice. Monday schools were closed for the President's Day holiday. On Tuesday, with snow falling, student returned to school following a 90 minute delayed opening schedule. They were only in their schools for a short time when the district officials announced the students would be released early.
The early release was triggered by the discovery of the compromised roof support in a classroom in the annex section of the Helen Morgan school. There was never anyone in the classroom in question, nor did the roof collapse.
So far this year, Sparta schools have been closed 10 times for snow days. There were four snow days built into the district schedule. Now the schools will be in session for the days previously designated to be spring break, April 21-27. The district needs to find one more day to cover all 10 days. Tobin indicated that the decision to close school either on Good Friday or Memorial Day rests with the Board of Education. State law requires public school students to be in school for at least 180 days.
The district calendar is on the agenda for discussion at the next Sparta Board of Education meeting scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Mohawk Avenue School.