Wichita School Safe Rooms: At No Cost?

Writing from Scottsdale, Arizona

At the September 8, 2008 meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, safe rooms were on the agenda.

A few things I learned: It appears that it was by serendipity that the district discovered that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would help pay for the hardening of safe rooms. If not for that discovery, would these safe rooms be under consideration?

Joe Johnson, head of the school district’s architectural firm Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture gave a presentation highlighting the benefit of FEMA paying $18 million towards hardening the safe rooms. The district receives the hardening for free, because the federal government pays, according to Mr. Johnson.

I wonder if Mr. Johnson has ever considered where FEMA gets its funds.

Then, by using Google, I found that many school districts are counting on FEMA to pay for a portion of their safe rooms, just like Wichita.

As it is so often, the government takes from one party and gives to another, and the receiving party is grateful — until they have to pay for someone else’s safe rooms.

I fully support safe rooms or some other type of storm shelter for Wichita schoolchildren. That’s because with compulsory attendance laws, children must attend Wichita public schools unless they are able to make other arrangements. The district, then, must be responsible for their safety.

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