By Roger McKinney
NEOSHO, Mo. —
Members of the Neosho Board of Education on Thursday night favored a two-story, 18-classroom addition at Neosho High School and a gym at South Elementary School to double as storm shelters.
The board met in an informal session to discuss options for Federal Emergency Management Agency safe rooms at the high school and the elementary school. The board will make formal plans when it meets on Monday, March 18.
The board has yet to develop plans for a FEMA safe room at Carver Elementary School.
On another matter, Tim Crawley, school district operations director, said the administration is considering redistricting the boundaries of the two elementary schools in town, but it will depend on kindergarten pre-enrollment numbers.
“Eighteen excites me,” said board President Brett Day about the high school. “That’s a lot of classrooms. We’ve been telling the public we need rooms. I think a two-story plan where we add 18 rooms is a bold statement.”
The addition would be added to the front of the building. The rest of the building is one story.
High School Principal Darren Cook also said that was his favorite of three options presented by Eric McCune and Kristi Beattie, with Sapp Design Associates, Springfield. He said with this plan as the goal, he can persuade teachers to endure another school year of overcrowding.
“We can make it work another year,” Cook said. “I can sell it.”
Crawley, as he viewed a computerized, three-dimensional drawing, said the addition would improve the look of the front of the school.
“From street level, that’s almost like getting a whole new school.
A gymnasium would be added at South Elementary School to double as the FEMA safe room.
Crawley said rough estimates of the district’s cost for the high school is $3.9 million and $1.3 million for South Elementary School, for a total for the two of about $5.2 million. That total doesn’t include Carver Elementary School.
Crawley said the district could pay for it over three fiscal years from district funds.
“From the affordability standpoint, it is doable,” Crawley said.
The board is planning to seek a bond issue next year, which Crawley said could reimburse the district for the projects.
“Essentially, the hope is you build this into your bond issue,” Crawley said.
McCune said the goal is to have the projects completed by August 2014. He said after the district submits its plans to FEMA, the agency could take up to six months to review them.
“FEMA will be a determining factor on this,” Crawley said of the construction schedule.
Crawley said the administration is considering its options for redrawing the boundaries for South and Carver, but it’s preliminary. Both schools have children in kindergarten through fourth grades. He said if kindergarten enrollment doesn’t change or decreases, probably no change would be needed.
“We had a bumper crop of kindergartners this year we didn’t expect,” Crawley said during the break in the meeting, explaining the reason the boundary change was being considered.
The Neosho Board of Education previously had decided not to pursue a bond issue election this year.