Voters To Decide On Tornado Shelters For Justus-Tiawah School District In Rogers County

The Justus-Tiawah School District in Rogers County is asking voters to pass a nearly $12 million bond on Tuesday. The money would pay for two new tornado shelters, one at each of the district’s campuses.

Friday, February 9th 2024, 5:58 pm



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The Justus-Tiawah School District in Rogers County is asking voters to pass a nearly $12 million bond on Tuesday.

The money would pay for two new tornado shelters, one at each of the district’s campuses.

At Justus-Tiawah's North Campus, the shelter would serve as the kitchen, cafeteria and library. 

"It will connect this building to the elementary building over here, and so everything will be under one roof,” Superintendent Dr. Shane Booth said.

Booth just started at the district last summer. At the three other districts he has worked at in his career, each one was hit by a tornado.

"Ya, I'm three for three,” he said.

In 2019, a tornado hit Mangum a week after school got out. In 2012 the town of Tipton saw a twister and students took shelter. In the early 2000s, Cordell's elementary school was hit.

"The one in Cordell, it was in October. Nobody expects a tornado in October. It was there before they knew it was gonna be there,” Booth said.

Ironically, Booth said it was not his idea to seek bond money for shelters at his new district's two campuses.

"When I said, 'Hey, what do you guys think our number one need is?' One of the board members said, 'I think we need some tornado shelters.' And I'm like, hey I understand that,” he said.

At Justus-Tiawah's South Campus, the principal said they can fit all 178 of their students and staff in an underground shelter, but it's not ideal.

"We have to kind of reassure students that even though we're going underground, it's really safe. And it's the only thing we have right now,” Principal Greg Kelley said.

The floors are wet and muddy, spiderwebs cling to the shelter's lights, and there are three benches to sit on.

"It's really, really tight. Really, really cramped. And as you can see it's not super nice,” Kelley said.

And while Kelley said they are grateful to at least have that shelter, he hopes voters will help the district take its next step toward safety.

Booth said the bond money would also be used to redo the entrances to each campus, to improve safety during drop-off and pick-up times.

Once all of those projects are complete, he said, the district would also get some athletic fields. Right now the district gets help from the City of Claremore for softball, and other schools for use of their football fields.

Booth said the bond would not increase taxes.

For more information about the bond, visit the district’s website HERE.

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