Lawmakers, Local Businesses Push for Storm Shelter Funding in Schools


Thursday, May 30th 2013, 7:42 pm
By: News 9


The push to put storm shelters in every Oklahoma public school picked up more momentum on Thursday.

We know the heartbreak in Moore last week where seven children were killed inside a school with no storm shelters. The fact is most schools in Oklahoma don't have them. Now several lawmakers and a new nonprofit are working to change that.

"When a parent sends a kid to school, there's some level of expectation that safety's going to be provided. I think we failed those kids last week," Oklahoma City Mayor, Mick Cornett said.

Cornett formed a committee earlier this week to look at storm safety, especially in schools. Rep. Joe Dorman is working on a $500-million plan the legislature could consider in the spring.

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

"The ideas I have in mind would be to send something to a vote of the people, either to allow individual school districts to increase their bond cap, to put in place different opportunities for storm shelter construction, or do an overall bond where the schools would make applications to the Office of Emergency Management," Dorman said.

That would be modeled through what FEMA does through its grant program. Meanwhile, other lawmakers have partnered with two local businesses to form a non-profit, "Shelter Oklahoma Schools". It's raising money privately, and we're told the first of its funding will go to Moore Public Schools.

"We would all tell you that our reality about tornadoes and schools was changed forever on May 20, 2013," Superintendent Susie Pierce said.

Right now, Moore has safe rooms at West Moore and Kelly Elementary through a FEMA grant. They were built after the May 3, 1999 tornado.

Apache Corporation is donating $1 million to Shelter Oklahoma Schools, and Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge has added another $200,000 of seed money to the project.

To learn more about the non-profit, go to www.shelteroklahomaschools.org