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Oklahoma City mayor's tornado task force issues recommendations

Oklahoma City will consider the pros and cons of requiring safe rooms in new school construction.
by William Crum Published: September 26, 2013

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett is offering to throw his political weight behind school districts' efforts to win voter approval for tornado safety rooms.

A task force assembled by Cornett on Wednesday issued a report and recommendations for enhancing tornado safety.

The eight-member panel met twice in July in response to the May 20 EF5 tornado that killed 24 people, including seven third-graders in their school's hallway.

The task force is asking city staff to analyze the idea of requiring safe rooms to be built when new school construction occurs within city limits.

Children living in Oklahoma City attend school in 24 districts.

The largest of those, Oklahoma City Public Schools, with 84 schools and 45,000 students, already is considering safe rooms with new gym construction at up to 22 elementary schools.

Safe room advocates announced a statewide initiative petition drive earlier this month, with the goal of asking voters to approve $500 million for school storm shelters and enhanced security.

The recommendations

Task force recommendations include:

• A partnership with the National Weather Center in Norman for a series of severe storm safety town hall meetings.

• A joint study with the National Weather Center on ways that Oklahoma City might improve its tornado siren notification system.

• Consideration of whether the Oklahoma City Fire Department can inspect schools and offer recommendations on enhancing safety.

• Cornett, who is serving his third term and plans to seek a fourth, said he will ask city-area school boards to “consider construction projects to enhance student and teacher safety.”

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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