School Restoration Update

Saint Philip the Apostle Preparatory School Plan – January 19, 2018

This is a condensed version of the transcript of the January 19, 2018 video recording, for the full video.

I am Fr. Joe Garbarino pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Parish and Preparatory School. I am speaking to you from the main conference room of our Diocese of Paterson Chancery.

We are here to give you the latest update on the fire that occurred in our school in the early morning hours of January 11th.

First of all, we are thankful to God that no one was injured in this fire.

Joining with me this afternoon are members of the team that has been working diligently to come up with a plan for the education of our children and the restoration of buildings. Please introduce yourself.

Principal, Barbara Zito
I’m Barbara Zito principal of St. Philip Prep and you will be hearing more from me later.

(Principal Zito reads a message from the Superintendent who was unable to be at the taping at the last minute)
“Hello, my name is Mary Baier and I am the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Paterson. Much planning, collaboration, and collegiality by the faculty of St. Philip Preparatory School and led by Mrs. Barbara Zito, the Principal, has been evidenced over this last week for the continued instruction of all students at the school, Pre-K to Eighth Grade.
Everyone worked diligently to maintain a consistent, comprehensive educational plan for your children. To initiate this, technology played a vital role which enabled students to be informed, engaged, and involved in their learning. I thank everyone for all of their support and my prayers remain with you.”

Dennis Rodano
I am Dennis Rodano the diocesan Business and Facility Project Manager. Since the morning of January 11th I have been focused on working with your principal & pastor, the superintendent of schools and the diocesan risk manager to develop a plan for the return of the students to a school that is safe. There have been and will continue to be challenges that are identified that cause us to modify our plans and impact scheduling. We have engaged and are working with numerous professionals, including architects, engineers and various contractors along with the fire and building departments of the City of Clifton to bring the children of St. Philip Preparatory School back home.

Rich Ziccardi
My name is Rich Ziccardi, I am the Risk Manager for the Diocese. I have been in contact with all of our insurance carriers. We are working diligently to restore the school, insure the safety of our students, and return them to the school as soon as possible.

Fr. Joe:
Let’s start from the beginning…

On January 11, 2018 our St. Philip school building experienced a fire. To date the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
As we have now learned the fire and smoke damage was much more extensive than originally thought:

• The Kaleidoscope wing, where the fire originated, needs to be completely demolished.
• The main school corridor which houses grades 1, 2 & 3, the offices, and the auditorium received the greatest amount of smoke and soot damage. While extensive restoration work has been done there is much more that needs to be accomplished in that area. The ongoing work entails meeting codes and laws specific to school buildings and the safety of children.
• Teams of up to 40 workers have been working twelve hour shifts seven days a week on our behalf. Their accomplishments are truly amazing.
• The pre-K wing and Middle School wing have been cleaned but still await results from inspection and testing and await approval before children can be brought back into those spaces.

During the last week, our children have been educated online, however our number one priority has been returning them to a classroom setting as soon as possible.

Many plans have been explored and exhaustively investigated but, ultimately, were not feasible.

For example, within hours of the fire Bishop Serratelli telephoned me offering our neighboring John Paul II Center classroom space for our use. After days and nights of work and investigation we learned that because the building has not been operational as a school for 10 years, we are not able to move there at this point. However, it remains under investigation as an option for the future. Another situation of having to wait for official information.

Other Catholic and public schools were explored but to no avail for various reasons, all beyond our control.

As of January 19, 2018 we have a plan. I say this without humor because this plan may change because of circumstances beyond our control such as codes, testing and inspections.
We already shared in the January 18th update, that home online instruction would continue through this coming week.

The following January 19 plan is projected to be in place for 90 days.
The plan, beginning January 29th, will be for students to return to classroom instruction with their teachers:

IF the pre-K and Middle School wings are approved for use, the pre-K and kindergarten will return to their normal classroom space.
• Grades 1, 2, and 3 whose classrooms need ongoing restoration cannot be used.
• The children in grades 1-3 will be relocated, with their clean desks and new equipment, to the middle school wing classrooms along with grades 4 and 5.
• Grades 6, 7 & 8 will be bused to and from our property to Mary Help of Christians Academy, a Catholic preparatory high school in the Salesian tradition, in North Haledon. Along with their teachers they will be educated in their own wing of the building, in individual classrooms. We are very grateful to Sr. Marissa, and the Salesians sisters for accommodating us so graciously.

We will be having a parent meeting to share how we will move forward next Sunday, January 28 in the St. Philip Church.

2:00pm – 2:45pm for Pre-K3 thru grade 5.
3:30pm – 4:15pm for grades 6, 7 & 8.

This process of coming up with best solutions to an unforeseen event has been frustrating and difficult for everyone involved.

An additional financial burden has been placed on many families because the children have been schooled in a non-classroom setting and often childcare costs have been incurred.

Moreover, I understand your concerns about makeup days and we have no answers yet. We are investigating a plan to address these realities.

And now I would like to address the ongoing education of our children and turn this over to Principal Barbara Zito.

Principal Zito’s educational component is found in the full transcript.

The administration, teachers, and staff want to assure our school community that the,
‘Good, Better, Best’, with the Grace of God, is yet to come.

Fr. Joe:
We thank you for your prayer and support during this process. Be assured of our continued prayer for you and for your children. The way we process information and speak while working toward a positive solution; teaches our children about life and how to handle crisis. May we continue to be good role models of faith, hope, and love as we do Christ’s Work through our words and our deeds.

You will continue to receive timely updates as we move forward from good, to better to best.

/s Rev. Joseph J. Garbarino
/s Principal Barbara Zito
St. Philip the Apostle Preparatory School