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Local bond issues may be best option regarding safe rooms in schools

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: June 3, 2013

What to do about keeping Oklahoma children safe from storms during school hours? That conversation is well under way following the fatal May 20 tornado in Moore.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett announced the formation of a task force to review procedures designed to keep the public safe during storms. The goal, he said, is to “make sure we are doing what is right and appropriate to safeguard our community and our schools from extreme weather events.”

Meantime lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have joined an effort to raise funds to help pay for the construction of safe rooms or storm shelters in public schools. That's a tall order: Oklahoma has about 1,700 school buildings, with enrollments ranging from tiny to gigantic, and most don't have shelters. Building them is expensive.

In the past 12 years, schools have combined to spend $35 million to build 85 safe rooms. Three-fourths of that money came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The average cost of a school safe room built to FEMA standards is $422,000, according to the state Department of Emergency Management.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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