Guerneville and Monte Rio school districts uncertain when they will reopen after Russian River flood

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Dana Pederson is facing a massive cleanup.

Thick layers of sludge covered the blacktop, playground and parking lot at the sole campus operated by the Guerneville School District, where Pederson is superintendent. Its school on Armstrong Woods Road was still flooded on Friday, blocking access to school buildings.

The district will remain closed on Monday, and there are no plans currently to move students temporarily to schools elsewhere.

“The district is working with Redwood Empire Schools’ Insurance Group and spending the weekend remediating and assessing damage,” said Jamie Hansen, director of communications at the Sonoma County Office of Education.

The K-8 campus, with roughly 286 students, has been closed since Wednesday when the Russian River swelled over its banks and flooded Guerneville. The 15-acre campus is situated between two creeks and was inundated with water when the creeks overflowed.

Despite the flooding, Pederson does not expect to find much damage to the buildings. If cleanup efforts go smoothly the district plans to reopen sometime next week.

Since schools are required by the county to be built outside the floodplain, Hansen said district officials have no reason to believe there is any structural damage to the buildings.

“Unless there was some kind of non-flood-related damage such as a tree down on a building,” Hansen said Friday. “But so far we haven’t heard of anything like that.”

Other districts in the county that were heavily affected by power outages and flooding late last week are aiming to reopen Monday, Hansen said.

West Sonoma County Union High School, which has roughly 1,940 students, announced it will reopen on Monday.

Problems with restoring power could stop the Monte Rio and Montgomery school districts from reopening, Hansen said. If they remain closed because of power outages, the districts plan to notify parents on Sunday. Around 90 students are enrolled at Monte Rio and 28 students attend Montgomery in Cazadero.

“Guerneville and Monte Rio are planning on taking it day-by-day,” Hansen said. “Guerneville especially wants to take their time cleaning up all the river sludge and making sure everything is being done correctly before opening the school.”

You can reach Staff Writer Alexandria Bordas at 707-521-5337 or On Twitter @CrossingBordas.

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