The basement at P.S. 15 in Red Hook was flooded with between five and seven feet of water during Hurricane Sandy, staff said.
Teachers across the city and region are turning to DonorsChoose, a website that allows educators to solicit funds for small-scale projects, to get their classrooms righted after Hurricane Sandy.
The site set up a dedicated page featuring only projects from schools affected by the powerful storm and so far, according to DonorsChoose's current statistics, individual donors have given more than $50,000 to projects that will reach more than 19,000 students.
The quick pace of donations means that many projects are completed very soon after they are posted, giving schools an immediate boost at a time when goodwill is running high but coordination to deliver donated supplies to where they are most needed is only now being established.
In one remarkable example, a science teacher at Brooklyn International High School raised $1,080 from a single donor after explaining how his students' science materials were destroyed when the school building lost power. "Unfortunately, our school cannot afford to replace the several thousands of dollars in chemicals and restriction enzymes we lost due to Sandy," he wrote.
Other city teachers have gotten money to buy toys for students at P.S. 15 in Red Hook, which was flooded and has been relocated; give supplies to colleagues at a newly co-located school; replace graphing calculators for students at Staten Island's New Dorp High School.
Some projects to help city schools still need funding.
Channel View School for Research's Craig Dorsi greets students who arrived at their host school this morning.
Thursday will mark a milestone in New York City's recovery from Hurricane Sandy: All public schools will be open for the first time, Chancellor Dennis Walcott confirmed this afternoon.
But if today's attendance figures are any guide, students from the most storm-battered areas likely won't be there.
Today, 43 schools in heavily damaged buildings opened for the first time in new sites, some many miles away. Another 25 of the city's 1,750 schools remained closed because they had no power or because the city had been using them as shelters. But for the vast majority of schools, today approximated a regular school day.
Citywide, student attendance today at schools that submitted attendance reports was 87 percent, according to the Department of Education, and 95 percent of teachers reported for duty. Mayor Bloomberg called the attendance rates "encouragingly high" during a news conference this afternoon.
But at most, 43 percent of students in relocated schools made it to their new sites as the city struggled to roll out new bus routes for tens of thousands of students.
Some relocated schools drew far more students than others. Two selective schools in Lower Manhattan, Bard High School Early College and Millennium High School, each posted attendance rates over 95 percent in their first day in temporary sites.
Several schools based in storm-battered Far Rockaway, on the other hand, had less than 10 percent of students show up today.
Parents from Peninsula Preparatory Academy get in one last chant before jumping on a chartered bus.
Parents of Peninsula Preparatory Academy believe politics is what doomed their school to closure in the first place. Now, they're hoping the very same forces will keep it open.
With the support of State Sen. Malcolm Smith and City Councilman James Sanders, Jr., more than 100 PPA parents and supporters made the 23-mile trek from Far Rockaway, Queens to lower Manhattan to protest at the Department of Education against its decision to close the school.
Smith didn't attend the rally, but a spokeswoman said he donated $600 to pay for one of the buses. Smith's support for the school is well-documented. He served on the founding board of Victory Schools, Inc., a for-profit charter school management company until 2006 and sponsored a $100,000 member item for Peninsula Prep to buy computers in 2010, a move that raised eyebrows at the time from good government advocates. Smith did not respond to requests for comment.
Sanders, Jr. attended, but admitted he previously didn't know much about school's plight. He said he threw his support behind it once he saw how much his constituents cared about the issue.
"Was it Gandhi who said, 'there go the people. I must follow them because I am their leader'?" said Sanders, Jr. "When my bosses are going to a place where they feel strongly about something, ten to one, that's a place I should be."