At its Dec. 21 meeting, the Rockwood Board of Education voted 6-1 to allow the district’s finance department to apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] tornado safe room grant.
Should the district receive the grant, the funds would go toward adding safe room elements to an already proposed multipurpose room at Wildwood Middle. During times of emergency, the structure could protect about 830 occupants.
“It’s designed so that it can incorporate all the students, all the staff and if you have any visitors in the building at that time,” Northington said.
The structure would also be able to withstand F5 tornado level winds and gusts up to 250 mph.
“The way the architects describe the safe room is that in the heaviest of tornadoes, your building might be flattened but your safe room will stand,” Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost said at the Dec. 21 meeting, following a presentation by Chief Financial Officer Paul Northington.
While the safe room is a new proposition, the multipurpose room is not. Its construction was planned as part of the voter-approved 2017 bond issue. The estimated cost for the addition would be about $1.8 million, prior to the consideration of adding a safe room or storm shelter component.
If selected as a grant recipient, the district would be reimbursed for 75 percent of eligible safe room construction expenses, up to $1,218,750 in funding. The application process is being spearheaded by Toth & Associates, a Springfield, Missouri-based engineering firm.
“They have extensive experience in the state of Missouri, and have worked with other schools on similar projects around the state,” Northington said.
If the grant is awarded to the district, Toth & Associates will charge $77,381 for the successful award, about 75 percent of which will be reimbursed by the grant, with a net cost of about $19,345.25 for the district.
Grant applications are due by April 1. Should the Rockwood School District receive the grant, project planning would continue into 2018, with most of the construction process tentatively taking place in 2019.