The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 24, 2014

Riverton school officials assessing building needs, including shelters

RIVERTON, Kan. — The Riverton School District is in the early stages of a discussion that could lead to expanding its building complex, as well as the creation of storm shelters.

District personnel began assessing building needs last fall, said Superintendent Todd Berry.

“We’re just now getting to the phase where we’ve narrowed it down to talk to architects and visit with them about the process that they as a firm take a school district through,” Berry said. The district will then have to identify its needs and determine what taxpayers might support.

“Our neighbors, Baxter Springs and Galena, have passed bond issues that have resulted in the addition of shelters,” Berry said. “The time seems right.”

The school district has mobile classrooms across the road, Berry said, and he wants the students to be brought back into the main building.

The district is also lacking adequate tornado shelters, he said, adding the current building serves more as a shelter from wind. Riverton’s only public tornado shelter is located in a fitness center, Berry said, and can accommodate only about 90 people.

Baxter Springs recently opened its new school buildings. After rejecting two previous bond issues to build new schools, voters in 2012 approved an $8 million bond issue that included three construction projects with storm shelters built to Federal Emergency Management Agency specifications.

In Galena, $7.5 million in school expansions are under way. They include space for use as storm safe rooms.

“The Joplin tornado woke a lot of people up,” Berry said, adding the Moore, Okla., tornado also got people’s attention.

Down the road

Todd Berry, Riverton superintendent, said school board members have not yet considered proposing a bond issue, nor have they discussed numbers. The topic will become more serious in the spring or early summer, he said.


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