Regional Schools Chief: No Perfect Decision Exists

West Morris Regional School District Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast has a message to parents and students after Hurricane Sandy.

Dear Parents and Guardians,

It is my hope that all of the families of the West Morris Regional High School District are safe and secure.

To the best of my ability, I have toured our five communities and many neighborhoods. The damage to each town is extensive. Aside from the loss of power, there are hundreds of closed streets, impassable walkways, and downed wires.  It is an unsafe environment. Additionally, JCP&L has reported 70% of Morris County residents still do not have power. Luckily, the structural damage to our high schools is minimal, although the buildings are without electricity or heat.

While I know there are important concerns such as college application deadlines, marking period assessments and athletic events, our priority at the moment is your child's safety.  The decision to open school will be based on the following criteria:

  • Electricity and heat within the school buildings.
  • Passable road conditions.  Even if your street looks safe, travel elsewhere may be dangerous.
  • School bus safety.
  • Availability of our staff.

The loss of calendar days is not paramount in our decision making. We have allotted four snow days for this calendar year and we have presently used five days this week. When this event is over, school officials and Board of Education members will create an appropriate plan for the rest of the school year. 

As Superintendent of Schools, I am responsible for the final decision to open schools. I confer with our principals, police departments, departments of public works, transportation directors, and constituent superintendents of the Mendham Township School District, Mendham Borough Schools, Chester Consolidated School District and the Washington Township School District.

Please note, there are times when no perfect decision exists. It is impossible to ascertain the exact circumstances of each family. If you feel that it is unsafe for your child to travel or to attend school, please use your best judgment as to whether or not he or she should attend. In these conditions, it is our hope that all inexperienced drivers will be using our bus system or will be transported to school by their parents.

We will be weighing all of these factors carefully over the next 72 hours in order make a decision regarding next week.  We will continue to work as carefully as we can in order to make the best possible decision for our community.

Mackey Pendergrast
Superintendent of Schools


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