Bartlesville Public Schools Denies $5M Storm Shelter Proposal
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - The Bartlesville School District Thursday shot down a proposal to install storm shelters for its some 6,000 students.
While the school board passed a resolution that puts a nearly $37 million bond issue for school renovations on the ballot, they're not quite ready to include $5 million to install storm shelters.
A new gymnasium, updated technology, and school security are just a small part of what Bartlesville residents will get to vote on in an upcoming multi-million dollar bond issue.
But the decision to not include storm shelters is what has many people talking.
"I have three nieces in elementary school right now, and I think it's a good thing to have," said Donna Frye.
She said she would have voted for the storm shelters in light of the recent tragedy in Moore.
"It hits home, because we can't always get there to get to them," Frye said.
School board President Doug Divelbiss said, "If the Moore tornado hadn't occurred, I don't think we'd be talking about that right now."
He said the storm shelter proposal hasn't had near as much planning as the renovation project.
"We've been working on that as a district for at least 2 years now," Divelbiss said. "The tornado shelter kinda came as a following along thing just real recently."
But Frye said she's afraid the district can't afford to wait.
"Between now and whenever this bond issue goes, we could be hit like Moore," she said.
The high school and mid-high in Bartlesville have basements or fall out shelters, but the six elementary schools don't have any underground areas to take shelter.
"They really want storm shelters. The safety of our students is paramount, and very, very important to every board member and myself included," said Superintendent Gary Quinn.
Quinn said that the board wants to be certain of what type and size of shelters to have, and know how quickly the students can get to them.
They also think funding might come down from the Oklahoma legislature to help offset the $5 million price tag.
"Let's make sure that we leverage those funds, also, and I'm very confident that they'll bring it to voters very soon," Quinn said.
The school board says FEMA could also help with the cost of the safe rooms.
The bond issue for the renovations will go before voters this September.