Survey Clarification Regarding Disaster Prep

I just wanted to clarify some information that may be misleading in the PTA program survey that went home this Friday in the Blue Folders.  First, historically, the PTA has only funded $1000 per year, sometimes even less, and much of that went unspent.  This year the Disaster Preparedness Committee was originally budgeted $1000.  As our student population has grown significantly over the last several years, our already meager supplies have not kept up.  And we never had enough to truly make the school self-sufficient after a major disaster for 3 days as mandated by the Education Code.  (Did you know that professional emergency responders are now recommending that everyone be prepared to be self-sufficient after a major natural disaster for 7-14 days based on other recent natural disasters in our country?)  We need to plan for a worst case scenario where the school building becomes uninhabitable after an earthquake.  Our school lies almost on top of the Hayward Fault which is one of the major faults in the Bay Area.  We need more 1st aid supplies in addition to replacing our expired water.  We need food, shelter, sanitation, search & rescue supplies…the list goes on!  Its a daunting task, but we can do it with enough support!

 In collaboration with the school’s Safety Committee which includes Ms. Makela and a couple staff members (Carl Blake, and Barbara McCormick), we have created a 5-Year Plan to identify what we need and to prioritize spending over the next few years so that our school can be fully prepared.  The planning focuses not only on earthquake preparedness but also Lock-down and Shelter-in-Place situations.  (The 3-day preparedness rule is for all of this, not just Shelter-in-Place as indicated on the survey.)  At the March PTA meeting, I presented the 5-Year Plan to the present PTA members and requested an additional $2400.00 in spending for this year which is year 1 of the plan.  This received overwhelming support and was approved (THANK YOU!).  The additional funds plus the original $1000 is where the $3400.00 budget in the survey comes from.  This is not the amount the PTA has supported every year up to now!  But we will need this much and more over each of the next 4 years to complete the plan.  After that, assuming we accomplish our goal, the annual funding to upkeep our supplies will be minimal because we are investing in long-life items that do no need replenishing annually (preserved water can have a shelf-life of 5 years and we can invest inreusable containers that will last much longer – the containers can be refilled on campus.  Emergency food can have a shelf-life of up to 25 years and cost less initially than an equivalent supply of canned food!)

While we have tried to get assistance from the School District, so far all we are being told is that there is no money for them to give.  We are also pursuing some assistance from the City of El Cerrito, but that is a very slow process because it involves all the El Cerrito schools, not just Madera.  While we will continue to push them for assistance, it is likely to only come in the form of grant writing assistance, not actual cash.  Other grants through FEMA, etc. are for assistance post-disaster or for government agencies planning efforts only.  But the beauty of the 5-Year plan is that it spreads out our costs while also buying us time to pursue other avenues of funding.  If successful, then the PTA won’t have to fund as much.  But meanwhile we need the PTA’s continued, and increased, support.

Ms. Makela and ALL the teaching staff have been very supportive this year of our efforts to get prepared.  Please help us continue this important work and mark this as a priority on the survey!  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you,
Beckie Denio
PTA Disaster Preparedness Chair