Why a private St. Charles County preschool is investing big mone - KMOV.com

Why a private St. Charles County preschool is investing big money in a storm shelter

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Construction of the storm shelter at Primrose School  of St. Charles (Credit: KMOV) Construction of the storm shelter at Primrose School of St. Charles (Credit: KMOV)

A new preschool in St. Charles County is trying to eliminate the stress parents feel about their children’s safety at school during storms.

“We are building a FEMA-rated storm shelter that is actually two classrooms of our school,” said Jamie Ovlia, Owner of Primrose School of St. Charles at Heritage. “It is our pre-K classrooms on the back of our school, and it follows all the guidelines to meet FEMA and ICC 500 standards.”

The building in the back of the school is big enough to house the entire school of more than 180 students, plus teachers. It has 8-inch thick concrete cinder block walls, plus 11 inches of concrete on the roof. There will be normal windows with storm shutters that will close in the event of bad weather and it will also have storm doors. The precautions should help the classrooms sustain winds of up to 250 miles per hour.

Once construction is complete, the concrete will be covered with drywall and the room will be barely recognizable as any different than the rest of the 12,300-square foot building.

“We are the first private preschool in the area to build a storm shelter like this,” said Ovlia.

Any new schools being built that will serve 50 or more children older than kindergarten are required to build a storm shelter that meets the latest FEMA standards. Ovlia noted, as a private school that serves children pre-K and younger, they did not have to build the shelter, which can come with a six-figure price tag.

“As a mom, when there is bad weather you really think about your child at school and ‘Are they safe?’ and ‘Where can they go?’ because there are not basements in these commercial buildings so we decided as a family it was the right thing for not only our children but also as the owner of a school for 180 other people’s children, too, to give peace of mind and have a safe place for us all to go in the event of bad weather,” said Ovlia.

Ovlia said she hopes parents will keep the storm shelter in mind when choosing between their school or others.

“It’s an example that we are going the extra mile in everything we do,” she said.

The school, located at the corner of South St. Peters Parkway and Heritage Crossing, is slated to open in the summer of 2018. It will serve 182 children as young as six weeks through pre-K, as well as before and after school care for children up to 12 years old. Ovlia said fees are competitive with other similar schools in the area.

After they hire a program director, they will be looking to hire teachers as well. You can find out more information at PrimroseStCharles.com.             

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