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Safe Room Expert Views New Mounds Elementary

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Mounds School District recently completed a $3.5 million elementary school. Mounds School District recently completed a $3.5 million elementary school.
The new facility is an example for other schools to follow as far as safe rooms, Kiesling said. The new facility is an example for other schools to follow as far as safe rooms, Kiesling said.
Mounds Elementary Principal Yvette Yvette Britt gives safety expert Ernst Keisling a tour of the new building. Mounds Elementary Principal Yvette Yvette Britt gives safety expert Ernst Keisling a tour of the new building.

By Craig Day, The News On 6

MOUNDS, OK -- Texas Tech University's Ernst Keisling, a pioneer in above-ground storm shelters is getting a first-hand look at a school that has built safe rooms for its students.

Students at Mounds Elementary in Creek County just got into their new school building this week. The $3.5 million building is an investment in their education.

There are some high tech features.

"Ok class, what kind of coins will make 12 cents?" asks a teacher. "And the kids are able to come up and click on these coins."

Along with the high tech tools, there is also a high emphasis on safety.

"Mainly we just wanted it to be secure and strong," said Yvette Britt, Mounds Elementary Principal.

"That means making it storm safe."

The building has reinforced concrete walls and steel doors in the gym dressing rooms and computer lab.

The district decided to implement the safe room technology when forced to rebuild after a fire two years ago.

"Well this is very impressive.  Good space utilization," Ernst Keisling said.

Texas Tech University safe room expert Ernst Keisling is getting his first look at what the school has done. He's the executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association.

"It's right here, readily accessible," Kiesling said. "And so I think this an exemplary project from my standpoint."

The safe rooms are big enough to hold all of the 325 students, plus teachers and staff. Keisling believes it's a good model for what other schools can do.

"Anyone doing a major renovation or a new construction should consider putting a saferoom in it," said safety expert Ernst Keisling of Texas Tech University.

"It really makes us feel good and pleased to know that someone does come in and look at it, and evaluates it and says ‘yes you did the right thing,'" said Mounds Elementary School Principal Yvette Britt.

For school leaders in Mounds, they believe the added cost will pay off in better safety, less anxiety during storm season, and more peace of mind.

Kiesling estimates building safe rooms in schools adds about five percent to overall construction costs.

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