Carthage Elementary Schools Add Safe Rooms

The Carthage R-9 school district is looking to add tornado-safe rooms to protect its elementary students.

Right now, the district’s five elementary schools lack FEMA-regulation shelters.

Officials want to use surplus general funds to add classrooms which can double as safe rooms.

The junior high is being renovated. The intermediate school is under construction. Both will include a tornado-safe gymnasium when finished.

“We don’t have any of our buildings with tornado safe areas in Carthage,” said Carthage Superintendent Blaine Henningsen. “After the Joplin tornado a lot of the school districts were able to apply for FEMA grants for tornado safe public rooms. At that point in time we had just moved in to our new high school a year and a half before that. And we couldn’t come up with the matching funds to access a FEMA grant.”

In total, the safe rooms are estimated to cost roughly four-million dollars.

The state actually had to pass a one-time authorization to allow that large an amount of money to move from the general fund to the district’s capital improvements.