By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
The Webb City School District has been awarded $6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the construction of three tornado safe rooms, including one that will be open to the public.
The district could receive as much as $9 million if two additional safe rooms under consideration are approved. The district’s share of the project would be about $2.5 million.
Superintendent Anthony Rossetti and his administrative team signed off on the grant contract Thursday in Jefferson City. It stipulates that the district has nine months to design and then 18 months to complete the project.
It will include a $3 million safe room at Webb City High School that will accommodate its 1,200 students as well as an additional 1,800 community members.
It also will include a safe room to be built between Harry S. and Bess Truman elementaries that will provide shelter to a combined 550 students, and most likely will include a safe room to be built between Madge T. James Kindergarten Center and Webster Elementary School, although Rossetti has not received final confirmation on the latter. Neither of those two shelters will be open to the public.
The district is waiting for confirmation on two additional shelters, one to be built at the junior high and one at the middle school.
“We still are confident the others will be approved,” Rossetti said.
The district’s other attendance centers were not included in the grant, which carries population requirements.
The announcement this week allows the district to proceed to the design phase, for which it sent out a request for proposals by architectural firms.
“We’re contemplating our financial resources and what that will allow us to do on this,” Rossetti said.
It’s likely, he said, that the safe rooms at the high school, junior high and middle school would be attached to the existing buildings and outfitted as multipurpose space so that they have dual value. Those at the elementary schools and primary center most likely would be stand-alone shelters, although they would be designed and landscaped to blend with the existing buildings and, in the future, might be converted to a dual use.
“We’re pretty excited,” Rossetti said. “This opens up all kinds of possibilities and opportunities.”
He anticipates breaking ground by the end of the school year or early summer.
The grant is the second to be made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Webb City. In June, FEMA announced it will pay $1.1 million toward the cost of a 8,700-square-foot structure at Crowder College’s campus in Webb City, with Crowder picking up the remaining $383,000.
The safe room portion of the building will hold 1,375 people, including students, staff members and residents who live within a half-mile radius of the campus on South Ellis Street.