Columbia schools to file for FEMA relief

The school board will discuss the storms’ impact.
Sunday, February 11, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:02 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Columbia School Board members will meet Monday night to discuss the fiscal impact of the January ice storms that forced administrators to close schools for two days.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the administration building at 1818 W. Worley St. to examine the district’s response to the January storms and the contracted costs of snow and ice removal.

“With all of the accumulation, it was a real safety issue for the board as well as the public,” said Phyllis Chase, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools.

The district is in the process of filing Federal Emergency Management Agency paperwork that, if approved, would return a large portion of the costs incurred. The city of Columbia and Boone County filed similar requests with FEMA in late January.

“It cost a lot of money and we had a lot of damage,” said Jacque Cowherd, deputy superintendent, “but we’re optimistic we’ll get 75 percent back” of the money that schools spent.

Records show the district paid $137,337 to contractors who helped remove the snow and ice. An additional $37,366 was spent on overtime and supplies. These funds come from Columbia schools’ maintenance budget.

Workers are making temporary repairs to the roof at Parkade Elementary School, which was damaged by the storm, and administrators are preparing specifications to eventually have the roof replaced, Cowherd said.

“We had a lot of damage, and I suspect there’s damage we haven’t seen yet,” Cowherd said. “I’m optimistic about the sidewalks, but there’s still ice on roofs.”

The National Weather Service forecasts a mix of snow and rain for today and Monday. If winter weather hits Columbia again, Cowherd said the district will be prepared.

“We have our driving crews and our maintenance crews ready to go Sunday afternoon,” he said. “We’ll evaluate the severity at the time and see what we need to do.”

The board is also slated to discuss budget updates, professional learning communities at Rock Bridge High School and paperless board meetings.

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