Broken Pipe Damages Lodi, N.J. School, Disrupts Class Schedule

LODI, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Pipe problems led to major damage at a Bergen County school this week.

As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported, a pipe broke over the weekend and sent water through the ceiling into several main areas of the building.

In the middle of the school day Wednesday, the cafeteria at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Lodi, New Jersey was empty, and the doors to the media centers were closed. Students were not allowed in.

“The ceiling fell,” said seventh grader Kiara Florentino.

“It’s something to be worried about because it fell out of nowhere, so it might just fall while we’re in school,” said eighth grader Hensel Tejada.

“It smells a little bit from the water, and we close the doors so it doesn’t get in the room, and we open the windows too,” said sixth grader Jaiden Taylor.

The principal said a pipe to the heating unit broke over the weekend, and water began cascading down from above. Classrooms were not affected, but the lunchroom, the library and auditorium were.

“Where we’re eating lunch, they blocked out where they’re working at,” said sixth grader Ginnay Skinner. “It’s like a big white screen.”

The school is holding half-day sessions all week. An email Monday told parents to make plans for a 1 p.m. dismissal.

Many of the parents work and scrambled to pick their children up.

“It’s unacceptable,” said parent Christine Enrick.

“It’s dangerous,” said grandparent Joann Sigl.

“They could have brought their own lunch and finish off classes,” said parent Marie Guerrero.

“Our state; our county makes a lot of money, so we don’t expect those types of things to happen,” said parent Ginnel Stokes.

“They have half-a-days because there’s a main break, and then they’re freezing because there’s no heat,” another parent said. “It makes no sense for these poor little kids.”

Parents said this was not the first time the school has had problems. They said last month, students returned from the winter break to classrooms with no heat

“Sometimes they don’t have power in some rooms. It’s really ridiculous,” said parent Omar Lopez. “Even sometimes they have to wear two coats.”

The principal would not go on camera, but said students were relocated to classrooms that had heat. One school board member, Ryan Curioni, said the problem is “their priority in the last year was to build a new administration building, which wasn’t necessary.”

The principal said the pipe has been fixed, and repairs to the ceiling should be finished by Friday. But parents said the district needs to invest more money into the building, because it is getting a failing grade right now.

The principal said the school is still meeting the state’s requirements for instruction, and students will not have to make up for the half days.

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