School Storm Shelters Top Priority For Oklahoma Voters
TULSA, Oklahoma - The heartbreak felt across Oklahoma after the Moore tornado led to a call for change. Now school districts across the state are turning to voters to help get the money they desperately need to build storm shelters and keep children safe.
Students at Tulsa's Kerr Elementary now have a safe place to go when severe storms approach. School leaders held a ribbon cutting in February, 2018, on the district's newest storm shelter.
"We take safety very seriously; voters in Tulsa take safety very seriously," said Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist.
Paid for with bond money, Kerr's tornado-proof room is big enough to hold every single student and staff member and can withstand even the strongest storms.
Keeping students safe became top of mind in Oklahoma after the deadly tornado that ripped through Moore at the end of the school day.
"We'll use every square inch of this for kids just to keep them safe," said Superintendent Kelly Husted, Allen Bowden Public Schools.
At Allen Bowden schools in Creek county, students used to have to take cover in the bathroom during severe weather - but not anymore.
"I think it's a peace of mind, especially for our parents," Husted said.
A new media center is centrally located on campus, allowing students to get inside in seconds.
"When you think about somebody's heart and soul in this classroom, 21 of 'em, and nowhere to go, it's important," said Elk City teacher Laurie Ross.
More than 800 elementary school students in Elk City can take shelter in this brand new, state-of-the-art 5,000 square foot safe room. The lead architect on the project says it can withstand 250- mile per hour winds.
"The walls here are masonry concrete reinforced wall; you have that roof that is concrete deck; all the steel walls are attached to the foundation," said Socrates Lazaridis, Renaissance Architects.
Giving teachers, students and their families peace of mind with tornado season right around the corner in Oklahoma.
"If they only knew what it means for us and our students, it's a big deal," Ross said.