Although construction has yet to begin on the new Goodman Elementary School in the heart of the Goodman community, progress has been made. Earlier this month, the Neosho School District received notification that a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to incorporate a storm shelter into the school has been approved, with the federal government covering 90 percent of the cost. The storm shelter, which will be open to students, school personnel and the community, will be built in the form of a gym that will be utilized by the school.

Although construction has yet to begin on the new Goodman Elementary School in the heart of the Goodman community, progress has been made. Earlier this month, the Neosho School District received notification that a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to incorporate a storm shelter into the school has been approved, with the federal government covering 90 percent of the cost. The storm shelter, which will be open to students, school personnel and the community, will be built in the form of a gym that will be utilized by the school.

The official groundbreaking was held on April 4, one year to the date that an EF2 tornado destroyed the original structure.

Construction was expected to begin earlier this month but the recent rains have slowed the project. The first stage is the removal of asphalt from the site as well as the playground equipment on site. According to Assistant Superintendent Ritchie Fretwell, both the weather and unavailability of an area open dump are factors that have slowed the process.

"We're hoping by Wednesday to get into the dump," Fretwell said. "If it's not available, we will find another dump so we can proceed. The torrential downpour have not helped us. We are on a tight time table."

Brush piles on site have been burned. The play equipment and asphalt will be removed in the near future although Fretwell indicated some asphalt will be left in place temporarily for the trucks and heavy equipment to use.

"We are excited to see it get going," Goodman Elementary School principal Samantha Hamilton said. "The goal is to be in the building by the 2019-20 school year. Our crew, architects, and Branco are working hard to make it happen but we are all at the mercy of mother nature and other outside factors, so we are prepared to be flexible and adjust as needed.  That's just what we do! The progress is exciting and fun to watch for sure!"

Although the FEMA grant has been approved, construction on the storm shelter can't begin until all paperwork is in place and funds have been received so it's possible construction on the shelter may not begin until the school is nearing completion.

In other business, the Neosho Board of Education approved the consent agenda which included financial information.

"We're still developing some of the financial information you'll find in your packet," Dr. Jim Cummins, Neosho Superintendent of Schools told the board.

He indicated that financial information will be provided on a monthly basis and will be posted on the district's website for anyone to see. The financial information presented to the board on Monday evening can be viewed at the Neosho district website, within the Board of Education tab included in the agenda section for Aug. 20.

Current action items included approval for the staff giving plan. The voluntary plan is designed to promote a generous spirit in the staff. "This is something I've seen in a prior district," Cummins noted. "It encourages benevolence with staff."

Staff will be able to make voluntary contributions and each quarter, an organization that works closely with the distinct will be highlighted. The first quarter will be Bright Futures, the second quarter will be the Neosho Schools Foundation, and the third quarter will be United Fund. The organization for the 4th quarter will be voted on by staff members. Incentives to encourage giving will be given away in monthly drawings. Any employee who gives $20 or more will be included in a drawing for gift cards and Friday jean passes for the quarter. Those who opt to give at least $10 per month or $120 per year through payroll deduction will be entered for a chance to win gift cards, Friday jean passes for the quarter, and two personal days.

The board also approved a request to create a new part-time position of Junior High Innovation coordinator. The prospective employee will arrange for students to make onsite visits to businesses and individuals in the Neosho area. The position will be posted both externally and internally.

"We'll need someone with a good relationship with the community," Cummins said. "There will be some criteria we will look for in an individual."

Board members also had reports and updates on the athletic program, Special Services, Food Service, the technology department, and transportation.

The board also heard the annual secretary of the board report.

"This is the initial version," Cummins said. "There will be some adjustments made before Sept. 30 but the ending balance that you see will be pretty accurate."

Present at the meeting were school board members Keri Collinsworth, Brett Day, Steffan Wiest, Dan Haskins, Kim Wood and board president Stuart Puckett. Cummins, Fretwell, and assistant superintendent Becky Sears were also present.

The next meeting of the Neosho Board of Education will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at District Headquarters located on Fairground Road in Neosho.