The tornado destruction of Brindlee Mountain Primary School is heartbreaking. It would have been devastating if classes were in session.
In the planning for rebuilding/replacing the school, I hope some thought goes into the process and not just speed.
Here is my idea:
In building a new school, the idea of adding a storm shelter has already been brought up. A shelter capable of holding 150 to 200 people will not be cheap.
This includes students, staff, and nearby community residents.
Estimates range from $180,000 to $250,000 at quick glance. Then there is the upkeep and maintenance of the facility.
One consideration is, who wants to be in charge of wrangling 125 little kids outside of their school through the rain, hail and high winds to get to the shelter?
That will be a mini-tornado in itself, like herding cats!
I suggest the new school be built differently than the norm around here. It is not difficult to make the hallways tornado proof.
The walls are poured concrete anchored to a substantial concrete floor. Buttresses at the classroom doors add side strength and shield the hallways from projectiles at the doors.
The hallway ceiling uses pre-formed concrete panels anchored to the walls. Lockers still line the hallways and mask part of the buttresses size.
This will add to the cost of the school but little or no more than an outside, stand-alone shelter.
As for funding, I have yet to hear anyone a mention a FEMA request. The Feds give grants to help rebuild schools destroyed by natural disasters.
They would be more generous if the plans included modern safety upgrades such as the hallway I mentioned.
The Marshall County Board of Education and County Commission should not be focused on just replacing Brindlee Mountain Primary School as fast as possible. They should make the replacement as safe as possible at the same time.