Erik Ramstad Middle School students won't have to lug around 6 or 7 textbooks to and from school thanks to a $10,000 grant the Minot Public Schools received from State Farm Insurance.
Each child at the school has two sets of textbooks this year, one set to be kept at school and one set that can be kept at home. The money from the State Farm grant is being used to purchase the textbooks that are kept in the classroom.
Ramstad was one of the schools flooded this summer and students are now attending classes in the Minot Municipal Auditorium, which has no lockers where students can keep textbooks and personal items. Students still have to carry their books in backpacks from class to class, but having two sets of textbooks will cut down on the load they have to carry.
The school board was presented with a check from the insurance agency at its regular meeting on Thursday and expressed its appreciation to State Farm.
Earlier this summer, State Farm also donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross in Minot to purchase flood cleanup kits the Red Cross made available to the public free of charge. Local State Farm agents volunteered to distribute the kits.
Also at Thursday's school board meeting, board members heard an update from consultants Kraus-Anderson that most of the flooded buildings may cost more to renovate than they would to replace.
Kraus-Anderson is working to submit damage estimates to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will make the final determination. According to FEMA guidelines, if the damage is greater than 51 percent of what it would cost to replace it, FEMA would likely rule it would be more cost effective to replace it. Consultants reported that the damage at Ramstad is estimated to be 75 percent of what it would cost to replace the building; the damage at Lincoln Elementary is 59 percent of what it would cost to replace the building; and the damage at Longfellow Elementary, the Adult Learning Center and the Minot Head Start building is hovering around 50 percent of what it would cost to replace those buildings. Supt. Mark Vollmer said the overall damage to the district buildings might be as much as $50 million.
Children are attending schools in alternate locations. Lincoln students are at First Presbyterian Church; Longfellow students in portable classrooms on the grounds of Longfellow; and Head Start and Adult Learning Center students in portable classrooms on the grounds at Jefferson Early Childhood Center. Kraus-Anderson consultants said workers are still finishing construction work on the temporary classrooms, but things have gone smoothly during the first week of school. Teachers were able to put together their classrooms, often with the assistance of generous donations of classroom supplies from across the country. Students will likely be in their temporary buildings for at least two years.
Vollmer said the district lost only 41 students from last year at the same time, though the flooded schools did see more of a decline than schools that weren't in the flood zone.