Shelter Construction Ongoing In Edmond

Sunday, March 26th 2017, 6:03 pm
By: News 9

The Moore tornado in 2013 took the lives of 24 people including seven children who were sheltered inside the hallways of their school. In the wake of the deadly storm, a big push emerged to put shelters in every Oklahoma school.
But the initiative fell short - and school districts like Edmond, are now taking on that responsibility, to shelter their own.

Every cut, every measurement done by a construction crew inside Sunset Elementary School in Edmond is all part of a blueprint to keep the elementary school students here safe. It's a ?? square foot addition at that will not only protect students and staff here during a storm, but it will also offer two classrooms and a media center.

"It is a very large storm shelter that can house over 800 people," said Kartina McDaniel, the principal at Sunset Elementary. "Really the entertainment is built in so we'll always have books to read, we will have technology there to read or work on, so i think it will be a real benefit to our school."

The project is part of a plan to put a storm shelter inside all 27 schools within the Edmond Public School District.

"We're adding 3,000 to 4,000 students a year in shelters," said Bret Towne, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent.

The passage of several school bonds in 2015 and 2017, totaling just over $200 million, will pay for the shelters and other improvements across the district. 

"We're taking care of building needs, so if a school needed a gym or a media center or a classroom those spaces will be built but they'll be built as shelters," said Towne.

The deadly 2013 Moore tornado that killed seven children inside Plaza Towers Elementary prompted the need for shelters in all Oklahoma schools. The nonprofit group Shelter Oklahoma Schools did raise over $2.3 million to build school storm shelters and safe rooms across the state.

"We put 18 shelters in schools and that's pretty gratifying in itself, I wish we could have done more but that's as far as we got with the money we had," said Rep. Mark McBride.

The campaign ended after three years due to lack of interest. Other recently proposed measures at the state captiol have also failed.

This is why districts like Edmond have taken action on its own.

"I know that it's an important time and a very important time to make sure that our students feel safe and our parents feel safe leaving their kids here," said McDaniel.

Construction will take several more years, but the district hopes to shelter all of it's 27,000 students and staff by the year 2020.