Blessed Kateri students get unexpected break

Heavy rain floods private Niskayuna school, cleanup stretches two days

— Snow days are already being wiped out at one local school after a bout of intense rain swept through the region.

The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish School in Niskayuna, formerly known as St. Helen’s, was partially flooded on Tuesday, Sept. 18, as severe storms struck the region. Students have stayed home for two days during cleanup efforts, but school officials confirmed classes would resume on Friday.

Snow days were used for the school year and now there is only one remaining.

“This cuts into our snow days,” school Business Manager Jenny Kraus said Thursday. “If we have more than one snow day we are going to have to start figuring out timing for extending the school year.”

School officials found out about the flooding after a parent contacted Father Robert Longobucco, according to Kraus. A Boy Scouts group held a meeting at the school Tuesday and parents noticed the flooding.

Contaminated water flooded the lower level of the school, which is older than the upper area, and reached the cafeteria, kitchen and bathrooms. Kraus said she wasn’t sure what cleaning costs would total.

“There wasn’t any real damage, but we had to clean and sterilize all of the floors because of that,” she said. “We can’t have kids in the building with possible contamination.”

The school is taking longer to reopen than expected, she said.

About four years ago, a similar incident occurred.

“It is a problem that Niskayuna knows happens in heavy weather and it has happened in the past with heavy water damage,” she said.

Around 330 students attend the school, ranging from 3 years old to fifth graders. The majority of students are from Niskayuna and Schenectady, with others from surrounding areas. The school, open for about six decades, changed its name on July 1 after St. Helen’s and Our Lady of Fatima churches consolidated.

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