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 classrooms behind it. A final highlight of the school year was the benefit concert by classic rock band Kansas in support of the school's music program.
The temporary school buildings are eligible for funding under the Public Assistance Recovery Policy provision for Temporary Relocation of Facilities passed in December 2010.
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS FOR MINOT SCHOOL DISTRICT
- Adult Learning Center – clean out building, main Building, replace school contents, lease modular classroom space (Jefferson Campus)
- Total Obligated $1,172,668.86
- Central Campus Plus – clean out building, lease building (Souris River Campus), replace school contents
- Total Obligated $788,517.40
- Erik Ramstad Middle School – replace building, lease modular classroom and building, clean out building, temporary dike, replace school contents, playground equipment, athletic field elements
- Total Obligated $27,881,901.70
- Headstart – clean out building, lease modular classroom space (Jefferson Campus), playground equipment, replace school contents, main building
- Total Obligated $3,872,257.89
- Lincoln Elementary – clean out building, lease building (1st Presbyterian Church), replace building, replace school contents, playground equipment, clear debris
- Total Obligated $6,030,947.84
- Longfellow Elementary – lease modular classroom space, clean out building, playground equipment/fence, replace school contents,
- Total Obligated $5,526,191.97
- McKinley Elementary – clean out building, main building, replace school contents
- Total Obligated $76,561.47
- Perkett Elementary – clean out building, playground equipment/fence, asbestos abatement, pumping out piping tunnels, replace school contents, asphalt pathway/parking lot/sidewalk, storage sheds,
- Total Obligated $1,133,529.19
- Sunnyside Elementary – clean out building, asbestos abatement, equipment repair, building repair
- Total Obligated $111,752.71
- Total Obligated for Minot Public Schools thus far $46,682,932.77
- Project review continues and additional funding is expected.