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OKC Mayor Introduces Ordinance Requiring Shelters In New Schools

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Godwin's company GFS Storm Shelters have built shelters at several elementary schools in Edmond as well as Plaza Towers in Moore. Godwin's company GFS Storm Shelters have built shelters at several elementary schools in Edmond as well as Plaza Towers in Moore.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

There's discussion of a school storm shelter mandate. It could be the next standard in Oklahoma City. On Tuesday, Mayor Cornett introduced an ordinance that would require storm shelters in every new school.

Twenty-four districts have schools inside Oklahoma City limits. And if any of those districts want to build a new school in the city, a storm shelter might have to be in the blue prints.

In the wake of the May 20 tornadoes, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett put together the Sever Storm Safety Task Force.

"What changes might be appropriate," said OKC Mayor Mick Cornett.

And now one change sits in front of city council.

"We think going forward this is the minimal expectation," Cornett said.

It's an expectation in the form of a requirement that all new educational buildings or structures inside city limits have a safe room.

"Through the years expectations of safety have risen and our codes need to abide by that," Cornett said.

The mandate will come in the form of an updated building code, and would come without any financial assistance from the city.

"This would just be another one with safety in mind," said Cornett. "The construction cost of adding a safe room to a new building are not astronomical and I'd would like to think school districts that add that to the funding."

It's a budget item that Councilman Pete White feels is supported by the 24 school districts.

"They were at the table and they said that made sense to them," said Councilman Pete White.

Having shelters in the plans instead of a later addition also makes sense to Chad Godwin.

"I would agree 100 percent. The cost per square foot only increases really 25 cents to 50 cents per square foot," said Owner of GFS Chad Godwin.

Godwin's company GFS Storm Shelters have built shelters at several elementary schools in Edmond as well as Plaza Towers in Moore.

"Whenever it's in the blue prints the shelter usually has a dual purpose. It can be used as a classroom, a gymnasium," Godwin said.

The city's building code commission has looked over the proposal. And while the commission agrees with the concern, it feels the decision should be left to the governing body of the school.

The requirement also calls for the shelters to have an occupancy load equivalent to or greater than the number of students and faculty in the school.

A public hearing is set for February 11.

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