"It's Your Money"- The Cost of Storm Shelters at Schools
There's an old saying, sometimes you have to spend a little money to make a little money. In this edition of "It's Your Money" we ask you a four million dollar question. Should your school district spend four million dollars to get 22 million dollars in return?
We are two weeks away from the second anniversary of the Joplin tornado. The May 22, 2011 tornado killed 161 people. It's America's most deadly tornado in more than 60 years. As the rebuilding effort continues in Joplin the school district is building tornado shelters and safe rooms. FEMA is paying the lion's share of the cost 75 percent. SEMA is paying ten percent leaving the Joplin School District with 15% of the expense.
To be precise, The total cost is $26.3 million. The Feds are paying $19.7 million, the state pays $2.3 million, and the school district pays $4.2 million. The remaining $527,500 was used to demolish houses where the new high school is being built.
In Joplin, the need for shelters is a top priority. Three thousand children who survived the storm were in the tornado's path. School Superintendent CJ Huff describes their needs. "from a mental health standpoint we have to insure our kids they're in a safe place when they're at school.. we have a lot of children who are still suffering from the impact of that storm we had three thousand children who were in the direct line of that storm when it came through Joplin maybe in a storm shelter, a hallway, a closet crawl space and that's their memory of the storm. We want to provide safe places that feel like a school that kids can set in and feel comfortable and not feel threatened if there is a storm that blows through we have a responsibility number one to put kid's minds to ease. We also have the responsibility to put parents minds to ease that's a question that came up many times after the storm last year as we re-opened schools. Are my children safe at school? I answer that question many times and I told them we're working on it." The Superintendent adds that if anyone has questions about the destruction an ef-5 tornado can cause, to watch the Joplin school video on you tube.
Only a handful of Mid Missouri school districts have either built shelters or applied for FEMA assistance to protect kids during severe weather. There's a little bit of fine print. These shelters need to be built as part of a larger project like a performing arts room, a gymnasium or even a brand new school building.