Pell City BOE accepts grant for safe rooms
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – The Board of Education officially accepted a grant Tuesday night that will help pay for six new safe rooms/classrooms at Elouise and Harold Williams Intermediate School.

“Thanks to Tony Morris,” said Bobby Hathcock, superintendent of Pell City schools. “He really works hard on getting these FEMA grants. He deserves the bulk of the credit for getting this money for us.”

Hathcock said the school system would receive $562,423 through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to build six new safe rooms, which will also serve as classrooms at Williams Intermediate School.

“That’s great news for our school system,” he said.

The school system will match the grant with its own funds, about $187,474.

“We hope the bids for the project will come in lower,” Hathcock said, adding that some of the work could be completed in-house.

Construction of Williams Intermediate School was completed in 2008, but the school was designed so new additions could be added for future growth.

Hathcock said workers would construct two new classrooms/safe rooms in the existing courtyard directly behind the school, and four new classrooms/safe rooms adjacent to the gymnasium.

He said construction of the new rooms could start as early as January and be completed before the start of the new school year next fall.

“I wish we had these safe rooms at all our schools,” Hathcock said. “The hardest days for me, as superintendent, are during bad weather – I’m talking about tornadoes.”

Hathcock said safe rooms protect students and staff from storms and tornadoes. The rooms can withstand 250 mph winds.

“That’s about as good above-ground protection as you can have,” he said.

Hathcock said Iola Roberts Elementary School, Water M. Kennedy Elementary School and Pell City High School all have special safe rooms to protect students and faculty from approaching storms and/or tornadoes.

Coosa Valley and Eden Elementary Schools do not have any safe rooms, nor does Duran North and South Junior High Schools.

“I would love to have legislators approve money to retrofit all our schools,” Hathcock said. “I would like to see and hope that all new construction would be required to have safe areas as well.”

He said the school system has also applied for a grant to construct a shelter/safe room at the Pell City Center.

In other business at Tuesday night’s board meeting, the board:

• Accepted the resignation of bus driver Kristy Lemley.

• Approved hiring Kendra White as a Iola Roberts Elementary School teacher.

• Approved adding Lauren Busby, Darla Hurst, Carol Isdell and Johnny Kay to the substitute teachers list.

• Approved adding Frostie Davis and Conda Crowe to the substitute lunchroom worker list.

• Approved the leave of absence for Walter M. Kennedy Elementary School teacher Maggie Lane, and Duran North Junior High School teacher Tabitha Surles.

• Approved the expulsion of Pell City High School students.

• Approved the system’s 2012-2013 LEA Improvement Plan.

• Appointed Hathcock as the secretary to the board, Tammie Williams as the chairman of the board and Cecil Fomby as the vice-chairman of the board.

• Announced that the next regularly scheduled board meeting is at 6 p.m. Dec. 18.

© 2012