More details of an 18-classroom addition at Neosho High School which will double as a FEMA shelter were presented Thursday during an informal school board work session.

The district proposes a two-story, 18-classroom, 31,000-square-foot addition to the high school. The addition will run along the front of the high school.

Cost for the FEMA shelter portion — which contains nine classrooms — and lobbies on the first floor, plus the construction of a second floor shell, is estimated at nearly $3.9 million, with FEMA to reimburse the district just over $1.9 million. An additional nine classrooms can be built as an alternate plan on the second floor at a cost of $1.26 million. Total cost of the high school project is estimated at $5.15 million.

Eric McCune, project manager with Sapp Design and Associates, presented drawings of various options for the building’s entry lobby. One design would use a laminate type wood product on the lobby’s ceiling to simulate the high school’s wooden gymnasium ceiling. Wood laminate in a lighter shade would go up from mid-way on the entry wall to the ceiling, providing some contrast, drawing the eye to the entry and hiding heating and air conditioning ductwork, McCune told the board.

McCune also brought a book of bonded soft flooring samples. He said the flooring could be installed like tile, but had the look of carpeting. However, he said, the flooring was not porous, allowing spills to be cleaned up quickly, like tile.

“We had originally talked about a polished concrete floor, but that’s fairly expensive,” he said. “This new product, bonded soft flooring, OTC [Ozarks Technical College in Springfield] has used this in their Village Theatre complex. They put it down and haven’t had problems with acoustics.”

The material doesn’t present allergy risks like carpet would, McCune indicated and comes in 24-inch squares for installation.

McCune also said lighting in the addition could be provided by LED [light emitting diode] fixtures instead of the standard fluorescent or compact fluorescent fixtures. While he admitted the LED fixtures would cost more initially — $110 per fixture compared to approximately $80 — the district would more than make up the cost in electricity savings. Another benefit of LED, McCune said, is that the lights are expected to last about 20 years.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people, a lot of contractors, about the project and they tell me ‘This doesn’t look like a FEMA shelter,” McCune said. “’That’s what’s cool about it,’ I tell them. ‘That’s the point. As a result, a lot of people want to be involved in this.”

Board member Jonathan Russell voiced concerns about parking.

“I don’t want to wake up a year from now and say ‘Oh crap, what do we do about parking?’ ” Russell told the architect.

“You’re losing parking out front,” McCune said in reply. “Our recommendation is, when the trailers go away, you can extend that parking lot into that area. Staff parking could be there.”

Also in the works is a FEMA shelter project at South Elementary. The South School project would include a FEMA shelter that doubles as a gymnasium, with a stage and seating. An add-on to that project may include enclosing the buildings at the elementary under one roof and widening doorways so that they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Cost of this project is estimated at $2.3 million, with nearly $953,000 being reimbursed by FEMA. Alternatives with the project, including athletic equipment such as a wooden gym floor, and telescopic bleachers and other finishes such as additional flooring, a stage curtain, and lapendary and acoustic wall panels, will raise the cost another $203,000.

McCune said FEMA approval of the plans could take as little as six weeks or as much as six months. He said he typically advises a timeframe of about three months for the agency’s approval. Should approval be immediately granted, he said bids could let out in November, with construction beginning in December.

Also in the works is a plan to build a third shelter at Carver Elementary. A basic shelter there would cost just over $1 million, with nearly $344,000 coming from the school district. Board members and the architect alike stress this would be just for a bare-bones shelter, with no alternative use.

Deadline for submitting plans for this shelter is Oct. 12, McCune said. Board members have asked him to come up with a couple of alternatives.

The Neosho R-5 Board of Education will formally meet on Aug. 19 for its next regular session.

Technology in classrooms
In other business, the board also discussed a plan to put laptop computers into the hands of each high school student in January.

Scott Harris, district technology director, told the board he favored a Google-based platform as opposed to an Apple one because the cost was less than half, and they would likely have to run Google Chrome application to be compatible with other classroom aids.
Harris stressed training teachers to use the technology would be paramount.