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Construction underway on FEMA building at elementary school

The Fredericktown R-1 School District hopes to have the construction for the new FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency building, which is located at the Fredericktown Elementary building completed by the beginning of next school year.

Superintendent Chadd Starkey said the building will be approximately 7,600 square feet and will house two full size classrooms, a computer lab and two smaller size class rooms.

“This design will help eliminate the mobile classrooms,” said Starkey.

He added, the new building will eliminate the students from walking outside to get to the cafeteria everyday. They will still have to walk outside to the gym once a week but the benefit was extra classroom space and being able to walk indoors, year round, to get to the cafeteria.

The district needed a place for the kindergarten, first and second grade students to go in the event of severe weather.

Starkey added, the district recently completed a safe room at the new Dr. Kelly A. Burlison Middle School, which would be in the vacinity of the high school, middle school and intermediate school for those students to go to when school is in session in the event of severe weather.

“The safe rooms are also for the community to go to.” Starkey said. “They are built to stand up to an F-5 tornado and give the community a safe place to go as well as the students during storms.”

Starkey said the construction for the elementary school was pushed back because of some circumstances. However it was started this fall and should be completed by the beginning of next school year.

Funding for the gymnasium was provided by a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Pending we have a good winter it should be done on time. We have a six-month extension with the FEMA grant if we need to extend the construction because of weather,” said Starkey.

Starkey said the grant is 75 percent FEMA and 25 percent local, which means it will be about a $1.8 million project when it’s completed.

The district completed the emergency shelter at the Dr. Kelly A. Burlison Middle School earlier this year. Letters were sent out in June to the residents and businesses in the Fredericktown R-1 School District living within a 1/2-mile radius of the Fredericktown Community Tornado Safe Room, located on the middle school campus.

The gym building is a “safe-room” designed to withstand an F-5 category storm.

In the event of a tornado warning being issued for Madison County, the doors for the facility will be unlocked so those within the TPZ, Tornado Protection Zone, which is the radius around the building can take shelter.

According to the letter sent out by the district, the TPZ is the intended protection zone throughout the year whenever a tornado warning is issued. The letter also states “due to estimated time necessary to reach the Safe Room after a warning has been given and the maximum capacity of 1,837 persons (including the student body and staff should school be in session), the Tornado Safe Room cannot provide guaranteed protection for those located outside the TPZ.”

For additional questions, call the district office at 783-2570.

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