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Moore students displaced by tornadoes can return for classes

The Moore School Board approved a motion allowing tornado victims who had to move outside the district to return in the fall. About 1,000 of the district's 23,000 students were displaced by the storms, Superintendent Robert Romines said.
BY SARAH HUSSAIN shussain@opubco.com Published: July 17, 2013
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Students who attended Moore schools last year and were displaced by the May tornadoes can go back in August no matter where they live.

“We want them to have the option to be able to come back home,” Superintendent Robert Romines said.

School board members approved a motion Monday to suspend the traditional geographical restrictions for the coming school year.

Last year, about 23,000 students attended Moore schools. About 1,000 students were displaced by the storms, Romines said.

Rachquel Brown is the mother of Courtney, 8, and 11-year-old twins, Colby and Caleb, who attended Plaza Towers Elementary, 852 SW 11. Their home was destroyed, and they have relocated to a duplex in Norman.

Brown said she intends to keep her children with their friends and the teachers they have come to know and love for the coming school year.

“I'm hoping their day care has spots for them and will be able to transport them to and from school,” Brown said. “I'm keeping my fingers crossed.”

Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary, 14901 S Hudson in Oklahoma City, were destroyed, and those students will be relocated when school starts Aug. 16.

Plaza Towers students will be in the 800 Building of Central Junior High School, 400 N Broadway.

The 800 Building housed 18 classes, but those have been moved into the main junior high building to make room for the Plaza Towers prekindergarten through sixth-grade students. The students will share a playground with nearby Central Elementary.

Romines said walls have been torn down to make more room for the elementary students, and painting and rewiring are underway.

Briarwood students will be at Emmaus Baptist Church, 16001 S Western in Oklahoma City.

The district's administrative services center offices will be split between Green Tree Plaza, 1901-1965 N Moore Ave., and Southgate-Rippetoe Elementary School, 500 N Norman Ave.

Most should be ready

Fifteen Moore school campuses were extensively damaged by the May storms, but 90 percent of the repairs should be finished by the start of the school year, Romines said.

Highland East High School lost its gymnasium, tech building and several portable buildings to the tornado. Many campuses had roof damage.

“We had a lot of roof damage across the district on that second round of storms that came through,” Romines said, speaking of the May 31 storm that spawned a tornado and flash flooding. “We had air-conditioning units that were ripped off, hood vents that were ripped, and when those come off, there's basically big holes in the ceilings.”

Many of the roofs already have been replaced.

Romines said the insurance companies have not completed their estimates, but he expects in excess of $60 million worth of damage from the two storms.

Plaza Towers and Briarwood will be rebuilt on the existing sites and are anticipated to be ready by August 2014 but will have new layouts.

“That was the heart of those communities, and so we're putting the heart back,” Romines said.

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