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Federal Grant Funds Storm Shelter Construction at De Soto High School

Once construction is complete, De Soto High School students and staff will be able to seek the safety of a new shelter when storms threaten, in part thanks to a federal grant the district received this summer.

Last week, the district received approval for an $827,339 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, according to De Soto Facilities Director Steve Deghand.

Construction of the emergency shelter is part of Phase II of renovations at De Soto High School funded by bond proceeds. Phase I is already complete, and the final phase is on hold because of lack of funds.

In addition to the storm shelter, Phase II — which is underway now — includes renovation of the existing wrestling and locker rooms, gymnasium and performing arts center, according to this summer’s school newsletter. Also, the district is adding a 44,000-square-foot activities wing with a second, larger gymnasium, ticket booth and concession stand. The projected cost of this phase of development, including the FEMA grant, is $8,348,441.

Phase III of renovations at De Soto High School is on hold because of lack of funds, according to information about bond projects on the district website. The final phase of construction would have included a two-story addition creating 14 new classrooms and a media center. The projected cost was at least $10 million.

Enrollment at De Soto High school has doubled over the last decade, according to the Kansas State Department of Education.

Although there is not enough money remaining from the district’s most recent bond sale to build the new classrooms in Phase III, the district has the authority to issue $23 million in additional bonds.

About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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