By Roger McKinney
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Joplin School District announced Tuesday that the Satterlee family of Joplin has met the $250,000 challenge issued last week by David and Debra Humphreys of Joplin.
“I’m pleased to report we have met that challenge,” said Kim Vann, the school district’s community development director, at a meeting of the school board. “We now have $750,000” for the Joplin Schools Tornado Relief Fund.
“Our family has lived, worked and been educated in this city for over 100 years,” said Susan Satterlee in a statement issued by the school district.
“We believe the key to the rebirth of our community lies with the school district rebuilding stronger than it was on May 22,” said Satterlee, herself a former longtime member of the Board of Education.
The Humphreys family made an initial $250,000 donation and promised to match dollar-for-dollar donations up to another $250,000.
Superintendent C.J. Huff said that when he talked with David Humphreys on Monday night, Humphreys jokingly asked him what took so long.
Humphreys is president and chief executive officer of TAMKO Building Products, based in Joplin. The company also made a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross in the wake of the May 22 tornado.
The district is “humbled by the support from the Satterlee family, the Humphreys family and families throughout the world,” Huff said in the written statement that noted that the $750,000 total could be used for such things as “food, clothing, shelter, after school care, school supplies, classroom materials, and student transportation to and from school-related events.”
Satterlee said, “We are all in this together, and as a community, we must all pull together and stay the course.”
District administrators, teachers and national education leaders are to meet today to discuss ideas for the future Joplin High School building. The building was declared a loss by the district’s insurance company. Total damage estimates to district buildings stand at $151 million.
Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer said the session will include “some really big thinkers in education.” She stressed that no final decisions would be forthcoming from the meeting.
“Now we have the opportunity to create the vision and then the facility,” Huff said.
Huff said he is negotiating for warehouse or retail space to temporarily house some students whose school buildings were destroyed, but he couldn’t yet announce anything.
“A big challenge for us is finding the square footage to have school on Aug. 17,” Huff said.
The board also heard that summer school enrollment is much larger than usual. Summer school, which begins Monday, has been extended until the end of July for elementary pupils. Elementary summer school enrollment was 1,060 on Tuesday; typical enrollment is about 700.
The board members also developed a list of priorities to keep in mind when they are making future considerations. Students topped the list, followed by staff, community, learning and education, and buildings.
“It goes without saying, those have always been our priorities,” said board member Jim Kimbrough.
“It’s a challenging time, but it’s a time of opportunity as well,” said board President Ashley Micklethwaite.