The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

August 28, 2012

Joplin schools superintendent: Enrollment cause for celebration

JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of the Joplin Board of Education on Tuesday night heard enrollment numbers that the superintendent said were cause for celebration.

For 2011-12, the district’s enrollment dropped by 265 students from the previous school year’s figure, presumably because of the May 2011 tornado. So far, the district has gained back 210 students.

“We wrapped our arms around these families and did everything we could to keep them here, and that effort’s paid off,” Superintendent C.J. Huff said. “Those are good numbers and certainly something to celebrate. It’s going to be an exciting place to be. We’re going to have some beautiful schools and some affordable housing for families to live, and this is going to be a bright spot in the Midwest.”

Angie Besendorfer, assistant superintendent, said the head count has continued to rise since the first day of the school. She said the district is up from last year by 131 students at the elementary schools, 51 students at the middle schools and 28 students at the high school.

The board’s discussion Tuesday night focused mainly on the next steps of rebuilding schools destroyed in the tornado. It included construction updates, and what to name new schools and classrooms as buildings are completed.

The panel voted to create committees to discuss naming options for the new elementary schools as well as naming opportunities for areas at the new Joplin High School. Members decided they would keep the traditional names that already are associated with many parts of Joplin High School, such as Kaminsky Gymnasium, and look for other naming opportunities, such as those for athletic fields and classrooms.

The board approved several contracts for the Irving Elementary and East Middle School projects for items including structural steel, concrete, plumbing and electrical work.

Huff said the district is working with the Joplin Museum Complex and the city about removing the sign at the old Joplin High School in the next month or two as construction moves forward.

“That’s an important historical marker for a lot of people in this community, and we’re going to do our part to preserve it,” Huff said.

Mike Johnson, director of construction, told the board that the district has been approved for federal funding for community storm shelters at Irving Elementary and East Middle School, two of the schools that are being rebuilt after they were destroyed in the tornado. The funding for a shelter at the high school has yet to be approved, Johnson said.

Johnson previously noted that the cost estimate for putting in community storm shelters at all of the damaged schools, including the high school, Irving and East, is just more than $5 million. The district’s 15 percent share of that would come to $750,000, with the state picking up 10 percent and the federal government covering the rest.

The board heard from Kim Vann, director of community development, and Kelli Price, communications specialist, about plans for revamping the district’s communications plan. They also unveiled Eddie the Eagle, a cartoon eagle that will be featured in coloring books in an effort to increase school pride throughout the district.

The board reviewed a rough draft of district goals that will be voted on at the September meeting. It is set for Sept. 25 at the administration building on East 32nd Street.



Tax rate

THE JOPLIN SCHOOL BOARD on Tuesday approved the school district’s tax rate at $3.66 per $100 of assessed valuation. The total reflects the 35-cent levy increase voters approved in April in their endorsement of a $62 million bond issue in connection with the rebuilding effort.

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May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace

    After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.

    June 11, 2014

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery

    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • r052214butterflygarden.jpg New park feature opens on tornado anniversary to encourage healing

    Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength

    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work

    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

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