Minot students benefitted from impressive teamwork when several groups collaborated to get them back in the classroom for the 2011-12 school year. FEMA, the Minot Public School District, contractor Kraus-Anderson and Innovative Modular Solutions worked together so that the school year started just a few days later than normal. FEMA's Public Assistance program, managed by the state, will also provide funding to repair or replace numerous school district facilities, as well as temporary quarters for unusable locations. FEMA has already obligated nearly $50 million to the Minot Public Schools, ensuring a bright future for students in the community.
A special task force was assembled to assess the needs of all flood-impacted schools and to quickly determine the level of damage and what types of repairs would be needed. The team methodically looked at each school, developing estimates for building repairs and replacement of lost equipment.
For two Minot schools – Ramstad Middle School and Lincoln Elementary School – FEMA determined that replacement would be more cost-effective than the extensive repairs that would be needed. Other facilities will be repaired to pre-disaster condition in compliance with local building codes. The agency will pay 90 percent of the cost of all eligible projects under the Public Assistance program. The state will fund 7 percent and the school district the remaining 3 percent.
While getting damaged facilities back on line was the long-term goal, there was also the immediate challenge of finding students a home for the rapidly approaching start of classes. More than 1,200 students suddenly found themselves without schools following the flood. An estimated one-fourth of the district’s staff and students were forced to evacuate in the wake of the disaster. But the timing of the deluge – during the early part of summer vacation – gave authorities plenty of time to respond before the scheduled start of fall classes. Some schools used modular classrooms to replace flood-damaged classrooms, some relocated to nearby temporary facilities, and others were cleaned and repaired.
The most challenging aspect of getting physical facilities ready for the new school year was transporting the modular classrooms to Minot and assembling them on temporary sites. Innovative Modular Solutions of Bolingbrook, Ill., supplied 60,000 square feet of educational space comprising 10 modular units with 64 total classrooms.
Each modular classroom can hold up to 30 students. The two-, six- and eight-classroom buildings vary in size from 28 feet wide by 70 feet long to 68 feet wide by 126 feet long. The 10-classroom buildings are 72 feet wide by 154 feet long and also contain office space.
The modular classrooms are surprisingly roomy, and contain everything one would expect in a modern educational environment including smart boards, ceiling-mounted projectors and ample lighting. Each modular unit also has drinking fountains and restrooms. Prior to winter’s arrival, the modules were also outfitted with heating and insulation, as well as heat tape for the water pipes.
Students and teachers made the best of their new quarters. Ramstad Middle School dubbed their move to the municipal auditorium “Ramstad @ the AUD” and printed up bright red T-shirts with that phrase, a way for students to embrace (and many years from now recall) what will surely go down as one of the more memorable events of their school days. Students also painted murals in the walkways connecting the auditorium to the temporary cla...