To give you an overview of the concerns, on May 20, 2013 an E-F5 tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma destroying two elementary buildings with children inside. On May 22, 2011 Joplin, Missouri was hit with an E-F5 tornado that left 161 lives lost. The school district was devastated along with much of the town. On May 25, 2011 an E-F2 tornado caused enough damage to schools in Sedalia, Missouri that the school year ended early. On April 2, 2006 an F-4 tornado destroyed most of the High School in Caruthersville, Missouri and significantly damaged the elementary. More close to home, on March 12, 2006 an F-3 tornado narrowly missed South Elementary School. According to usa.com, Missouri is in the top 10 for the most number of tornadoes by state. In addition, according to NOAA, Missouri and Oklahoma are ranked third for the highest number of deaths at school from tornadoes.
The Morgan County R-II School District first began the process of pursuing a FEMA safe room during the 2011-2012 school year. The Board of Education saw a presentation at the March 2012 regular board meeting about the FEMA project. A Notice of Intent to apply for a grant was filed in April 2012. A community facility survey was conducted in July 2012 to determine what the community perceived as the biggest needs for the district. All surveys supported the idea of addressing a Performing Arts Center at main campus which had been on the Facility Plan since 2005. At South Elementary, the survey showed a need for a gym/multipurpose room. However, the FEMA grant would not provide enough money based on South Elementary population to address this need so the district has been investigating other strategies to provide a tornado shelter at South Elementary. A campus-wide evacuation drill was conducted October 8, 2012 to ensure that the entire main campus could evacuate to the potential FEMA sites in less than 5 minutes. The grant was submitted in October 2012 and approval was received in December 2013. The challenge for the district now is to ensure that the shelter can be utilized for more than storms. To this extent the district is pursuing a 15 cent levy increase to provide for the expenses over the construction cost.