The Neosho R-5 Board of Education considered options for a FEMA shelter at Carver Elementary School in a board work session on Thursday evening.

The board has received FEMA grants for shelters at Neosho High School, South Elementary School and Carver Elementary School.

Eric McCune, project manager at Sapp, Design and Associates Architects, told board members the plans for South, where the district intends to put a shelter that will also serve as a gymnasium, have been submitted to FEMA for approval.

Meanwhile, plans for the high school FEMA shelter, which will also be a 31,000-square-foot, two-story, 18-classroom addition, are expected to be submitted today.
McCune said it would be anywhere from six weeks to six months before the district learns if the projects have been approved.

With plans for those two locations mostly wrapped up, board members turned their attention to plans for the third shelter, to be located at Carver Elementary.

Architects presented the board with three options, each with 6,480 square-feet.
Option one includes two classrooms, a music room, three storage areas a classroom/office, and one set of restrooms.

Option two consists of five classrooms, a storage space and a set of restrooms, while option three utilizes the majority of the space as an open room, with one set of restrooms and a storage space.

Board members and district administration expressed support for the more flexible option three, while option two will also be submitted as a possible future plan.

McCune said the district could add walls in the open design down the road to convert the large open space into classrooms if needed.

Satotha Burr, Carver principal, said it is difficult to say now which option will best serve the school at the time it is built, because it is dependent on enrollment numbers at the school once the shelter is in place.

“It all depends on where we’re at when it gets built,” Burr said. “If we continue to grow, we obviously would need the classrooms.”

She said she and teachers at the school had also discussed uses for a large, open space, and that it could be utilized for events such as assemblies.   

Burr agreed with Superintendent Dan Decker that the open space would suit the school best for now.

“I think option three is going to be good, because it’s open,” Decker said. “It’s going to allow you to do some of the things that you can do now, but we’re building it to the specifications, so if we do want to put in the walls like in option one, we can do that and use that space, but that’s stuff that we can do after the fact if we grow and we need it.”

Board president Brett Day said the design plans would be placed on the school board agenda under new action at the Sept. 16 board meeting.

Board members will take an official vote on the plans at that time.

McCune said the construction costs of options one and two would be similar, coming in around $1.3 million total, with the school district’s portion coming in around $640,000, according to Decker.

Without the dividing walls in option three the cost is reduced, and is expected to be approximately $1.1 million, with the district’s portion around $440,000.

The basic FEMA shelter would have been 4,800 square feet, however, McCune said when the shelter takes on a secondary use, FEMA requires that the square-footage increase by 35 percent, which bumps the size up to 6,480 square-feet.

While McCune suggested the possibility of saving money by including some interior work at the shelters, such as laying the gymnasium floor at South Elementary, in a future bond proposal, Day said getting the secondary use out of the shelters is a priority for the district.

“I think the secondary use is the important thing for us, because we’re not going to be using these for tornado shelters 174 days of the year,” Day said. “This is a district with space concerns, so any dollars that we spend on facilities, we need to prioritize and make sure that we have good use for those facilities.”

McCune said plans for the Carver shelter are due by Oct. 14 to SEMA.