The Salem School Board voted unanimously to approve a recommendation to move forward with an application for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that could fund $5 million of a system-wide project to add Safe Rooms to Bradie M. Shrum Elementary, Salem Middle and High Schools.
The Safe Rooms would be constructed as part of a national grant cycle aimed at providing funds for engineering and architectural services relating to the design and construction of a FEMA-approved facility. The rooms will be heavily fortified concrete and steel that will withstand high winds.
The grants were made available following the events of Hurricane Katrina, in order to assist communities in building facilities which could conceivably act as emergency shelters in the event of natural disasters and other emergencies.
If the grants are approved, 25 percent of the project or approximately $1,860,794 would be spent in local funds.
After a presentation by Larry Timperman of Michell, Timperman and Ritz, Board President Steve Motsinger asked the board if they were ready after 18 months of talks about the project to approve an application.
“It looks as if we’re getting a $7 million expansion project with most of that paid for,” Motsinger said. “It looks like a no-brainer.”
Timperman estimated the construction cost would be $215 per square foot.
Board member Jason Pepmeier asked Dr. Kim Thurston where the local matching funds would come from.
Thurston said a bond issue would be generated.
Superintendent Dr. Lynn Reed noted that there was a window of opportunity for the grant and if the school was going to use the project to not only provide safe spaces for students, staff and visitors to the schools, they had better act.
The project will include an addition at all three schools with the one at Bradie Shrum planned for 9,025 total square feet. The net safe room size would be 7,965 and would hold approximately 1,585 students, teacher and members of the public.
The actual space of the development is planned to be used a as a multipurpose room with four additional classrooms.
The Salem Middle School project would provide for the construction of a 4,070 square foot multi-purpose room with men’s and women’s locker room and a kitchen area. The total safe room would be 5,252 square feet and would hold up to 1,025.
The project at the Salem High School is part of a larger project that would be completed in phases.
The first phase would be to construct, through the grant, a new band and choir room. An additional phase not to be paid for through the grant, would include the possible construction of an auditorium.
The Safe Room would be approximately 8,540 square foot and hold approximately 1,470 students, staff and residents.
A representative of River Hills Economic Development District said the grants would be split up into three separate ones to be submitted to the State of Indiana, and then submitted to FEMA.
“Because of the size of each project there is a limit of $2 million per project,” she said. “We will submit these individually. All could be granted or just one. This is going to be an extremely competitive grant among other agencies in the US.”
Mark Abbott made a motion to approve with Jason Pepmeier seconding the motion. The board passed the approval unanimously.
Timperman said if the grant was awarded in the next few months, bids for the project could be advertised for bid next spring.