R-1 to move forward on FEMA projects

Friday, October 19, 2012

Detailed plans have begun for the two storm shelter projects proposed by the Monett R-1 School District. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave approval for the district to move forward to the detailed design phase of the plan on Sept. 27.

"The architects with Sapp Design Associates have drawn up ideas," said Superintendent Brad Hanson. "When we put the grant application together, we had to identify primary and secondary locations and purpose for the buildings. We're not tied to those. Now we'll really pinpoint what we want."

The first project will serve Monett High School and the Scott Regional Technology Center. The building is projected to be around 12,000 square feet with space for approximately 1,000 people.

Hanson said this is the building the Board of Education plans to use as a performing arts center. The east end of the high school was seen as the most accessible place for both campuses.

The south side of the high school could serve as an alternative site, requiring students from Scott Tech to walk through the high school commons room to reach it.

"The grant allows for a safe room structure, which is really four walls and a ceiling," Hanson said. "We can fit the majority of what we want inside the safe room."

Additional features to the building will be funded entirely by the district. Hanson said the board may choose to build a lobby on the front and possibly a classroom or two at the rear.

Board members and faculty from the music and theater arts programs visited performing arts centers at the Clever, Nixa and Ozark high school. Hanson and his predecessor, Dr. John Jungmann, also visited the facility in Ava, which is a FEMA-approved safe room.

"We were impressed by all four," Hanson said. "They gave us a good idea of what we want. My thoughs are, especially with the auditorium, is to put together a committee with a few community members, a fine arts teacher, Principal David Steward and a board member to help shape our plan."

Details yet to be determined include the shape of the auditorium and stage, whether or not to have an orchestra pit for musicals and what kind of curtains, lights and sound system to install.

The entire project is estimated to cost $3.5 million to $4 million. The FEMA grant would cover $1.5 million to $2 million of the total. Hanson hoped the design phase could be finished in three to six months.

The second project would be similar in size and serve the middle school and intermediate school populations. Board members saw the lawn between the middle school cafeteria and the E.E. Camp gymnasium as the logical site.

FEMA approved a 10,900-square-foot structure. Hanson said alternative uses have not been fully developed.

"Our principals, Dr. Jay Apostol at the middle school and Peg Bryan at the intermediate school will help design it and see what our biggest needs are," Hanson said. "We're more flexible for this one."

Additional construction on the middle school campus will have to be included in addressing the chronic traffic and parking situation along Ninth Street. Hanson said any construction project would consider tuckpoint, facia and window work on the E.E. Camp gymnasium.

According to a study by a structural engineer done last spring, the gymnasium was well built and remains in good condition. The gym could provide another 50 years of service, so Hanson said steps will be taken to properly maintain it.

The middle school project was projected to cost between $2.5 million and $3 million. Of that, FEMA would pay $1 million to $1.5 million.

"Financially, Dr. Jungmann and the board did a good job preparing us for this point," Hanson said. "We started this year with $2.5 million in the building projects fund. I anticipate that with our ability to transfer money into the building fund each year, I think we can do our normal summer projects as well as these without having to go to the voters for any additional tax dollars."

Should funding issues arise, Hanson said the district could build the second safe room as a basic building and add more features later.

If design work was completed in six months, and FEMA took up to six months to approve the plans, Hanson anticipated taking both projects to bid around June. Construction could begin around September and take around 12 to 18 months to complete. Bidding both projects together could provide additional savings to the district.

"The FEMA funds are available because of the Joplin tornado," Hanson said. "Ours are two of six projects that have been approved. Webb City had three and Humansville had one.

"I was hopeful approval would occur this soon. I'm excited to be getting started on the design phase," Hanson added.

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