The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 5, 2013

Neosho board hears ideas for FEMA shelters

By Roger McKinney

NEOSHO, Mo. — The Neosho Board of Education on Tuesday heard from architect Eric McCune about ideas to include in an application for Federal Emergency Management Agency storm shelters at three schools.

The school district must submit the application by May. Tuesday’s meeting was an informal session. The next regular meeting is set for Tuesday, Feb. 19.

McCune, with Sapp Design Associates, of Springfield, presented his proposal for the shelter at South Elementary School to function as a full-size gymnasium.

Tim Crawley, district operations director, said the room also could be used for physical education classes and for recess during bad weather.

“I don’t think we would have any problem with it getting a lot of use,” Crawley said.

“FEMA really doesn’t care what you use the building for,” McCune said.

McCune’s estimate for that safe room was $2.1 million, with FEMA paying $1.1 million.

At Carver Elementary School, McCune said, the safe room could be used to expand the district’s program for autistic students.

The Neosho Center for Intervention Supports began this school year and already is very popular, said Stacey Tracy, director of special services. She said that in this first year, she has turned down requests by other school districts to take their students with autism. She said she also has had requests from parents from outside the area.

“People are moving here for us,” Tracy said, about the program.

The cost estimate for the Carver Elementary project is $1.95 million, with FEMA paying $917,281.

McCune said the proposal for Neosho High School would depend upon the function for which it is to be used, and where it would be located. He said that if the city will allow Hill Street to be closed, a safe room that would function as a performing arts center could be placed on one end of the building. If not, a storm shelter doubling as classrooms could be placed at the front entrance of the building.

McCune hadn’t prepared a cost estimate for the high school proposal.

Board President Brett Day said he was concerned that the cost estimates for the safe rooms at the elementary schools were much higher than the figures that had been discussed previously.

“It’s hard for me to make up my mind on Carver if we don’t know what the high school’s going to cost,” Day said.

McCune said he can find ways to reduce the costs of the projects.

“The district is in need of space,” McCune said. “I don’t know if we want to be turning down square footage. We just want to find the right function for it.”

McCune briefly discussed the possibility of using a modular building to relieve space problems at the high school or the junior high. He mentioned the Joplin High School arrangement at Northpark Mall and the Mercy Hospital Joplin transitional building as examples of what he had in mind.

No election

THE NEOSHO BOARD OF EDUCATION last month decided not to pursue a bond issue election in April for a building project.