By Roger McKinney
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Freeman Health System has donated $25,000 apiece to the Joplin School District and Joplin Area Catholic Schools as they each prepare for a new school year.
School buildings in both systems were destroyed by the May 22 tornado.
Gary Duncan, Freeman president and CEO, said by phone that the donations were a joint decision of staff and the hospital’s board.
He said contributing to the education of children is an investment in the future of the community and the future of Freeman, which employs many graduates from the schools.
Duncan called the efforts by each school system “nothing short of miraculous.” He said the efforts are setting an example for the community.
“I marvel at the speed with which both systems are working to get children back to class,” Duncan said. “There’s a momentum I think is pulling the whole community along to move quickly.”
The tornado destroyed St. Mary’s Elementary School. St. Mary’s pupils will attend school at the former Simpson building at 10th Street and Byers Avenue, which is owned by the Catholic school system.
In the public schools, Joplin High School, Franklin Technology Center and Irving Elementary School were destroyed. The district’s insurance company hasn’t yet made a determination about Emerson Elementary School, East Middle School and the old South Middle School building. Also seriously damaged were Cecil Floyd Elementary School and the district administration building.
Warehouse and retail space is being retrofitted and modular classrooms are being installed to serve as temporary schools for students.
The checks were presented to school officials on Tuesday. C.J. Huff, Joplin School District superintendent, and Nancy Roark, business affairs director for Joplin Area Catholic Schools, in a news release thanked Freeman for the donations.
New school terms
Public school officials plan to start the new school year on Aug. 17, with Sept. 6 designated as the start day for the Catholic schools.