The vocational-technical school that bore the brunt of America's widest tornado has cleared a major hurdle in its rebuilding process.
Voters approved a $12 million bond issue to help fund the construction of the new Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno.
Since the tornado, students have been taking classes at a former car dealership in Yukon. Those students are making their current space work while looking forward to a bright future. The skeleton of the old technology center will stay as a total of $45.7 million is set to be poured into the El Reno campus. Superintendent Greg Winters has his eyes set on 2016.
"We're building the safest technology center in America," Winters said.
It's a center officials hope will provide peace of mind. Before the 2013 tornado hit, 15 people took shelter in a basement area as walls above them were blown away. On the horizon for the future building are five safe rooms big enough to hold 1,200 people, according to Winters. Also, what was a campus of nine buildings will turn into a campus of two larger buildings.
"I'm real excited to see how the new buildings [are] going to really look," alumnus Jacob Cornwell said.
The safety upgrade was a main reason for the $12 million in extra funding. Insurance is covering $33.7 million, according to district officials. Winters stresses the money is not so much a cost for taxpayers as an investment in Oklahoma's economy.
Winters says 70 percent of American jobs in the next 20 to 40 years are jobs students train for at vocational-technical schools.
"Oklahoma's career tech system is considered to be the very best system in the country," said Winters. "There's nobody that come close to us."
Nearly 63 percent of voters approved the bond issue. The new buildings are expected to be complete by 2016.