Oklahoma City School Board members voted unanimously Monday night to approve $5 million worth of construction projects, including a combination gymnasium and safe room for the district's second largest elementary school.
Members voted 7-0 to move forward with construction of two new classrooms and the dual-purpose gym at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, where 944 students are enrolled.
“A safe room will alleviate some of the fears that my parents have about their children being in school when there are tornado alerts,” Principal Laura Morris said. “Also, it will help the children feel safer, being in a place where they know they are going to be OK.”
The estimated cost of the project is $3,371,000, including $1,998,000 for the gym and safe room.
The panel did not comment before voting.
Board member Jay Means, during a subsequent discussion, questioned the safety of adding safe rooms to gym construction at two dozen other schools.
Means called the practice of building an aboveground shelter in a structure the size of a gym “absolutely ridiculous.”