As it turns out, that 26 percent total is based on the tissue-thin premise that the district is going to be totally reimbursed for all of the claims it has turned in to FEMA and SEMA on the building projects- including $24 million worth of what has been termed as "overages, errors and omissions."
"Overages, errors and omissions" is just what it sounds like- mistakes that were made on the local level, or things that were added to the original plans as the building projects were underway. At this point, the district is not guaranteed of receiving a penny, though that outcome is highly unlikely.
Barr told the R-8 Board of Education Tuesday night that district officials will meet with FEMA one week from today, Wednesday, December 2. "FEMA has allowed us to come up and explain our submittals so they have a full understanding of our claims."
Barr said the omissions on East Middle School are in the $8 million neighborhood, with $16 million for Joplin High School and Franklin Tech.
The session with FEMA will involve the district officials going over the differences between the items that were originally approved and the changes the district made without consulting the agency during the building process. "We're informing them of things we think they missed," Barr said.
All FEMA and SEMA claims have to be submitted by May, the board was told. "We plan to have everything submitted well ahead of time."
District officials were well aware that they were going to go beyond the FEMA specifications even before the 2012 bond issue passed. During a March 2012 meeting in the library at the warehouse that was being used as East Middle School, former Superintendent C. J. Huff, while explaining the bond issue to teachers and staff,, revealed the approach he was planning to take. That meeting (and I have a recording of it) is featured in my book, Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado:
One question that was on the minds of East faculty was why the new East had to cost so much more than the old one. The East that had been torn down following the tornado had only been in service for two years and had some empty rooms because it had been designed to be ready for any increase in student population. It was a state-of-the-art building when it opened and surely things had not changed that much in so short a time.
Huff anticipated the question. “East will be bigger because we’re smarter now than we were a couple of years ago. There’s no shame in that.”
Much of the cost would be borne by FEMA, but some of the things Huff’s team had planned would cost more than FEMA was prepared to pay.
“We’ll do some arm twisting” Huff said, “and they just might pay for what we need.”
We will find out about that in the near future.