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State will need help tackling issue of safe rooms in every school

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: June 13, 2013

Conversations will take place on how to mitigate the loss of life. Included in the discussion are ways to make shelters multifunctional. Traditional schoolyard cellars have no purpose other than shelter. Safe rooms that double as classrooms, labs or whatever are more practical. All new school buildings should include safe rooms, which will increase the price but magnify the protection.

This still leaves the problem of existing schools. Addressing the problem will take leadership from folks like Ashwood but mainly from local school boards, superintendents and principals. Communities must come together to build shelters by passing bond issues and by volunteering labor and materials. Local governments shouldn't excessively regulate construction.

Ashwood: “We have to have something broader and different and new and innovative that really gets all of the partners together and says this is a priority ... Many communities have an ordinance that requires a safe room in new school construction, but not every community does. Is that something we need to look at, at the state level? We ought to discuss it.”

Indeed we should, but memories of Moore — while they will never go away — will fade as the storm season gives way to the heat of summer. What is a top priority now could seem less so in a few months.

Ashwood's biggest challenge may not be to find the money to put a shelter in every school. It might instead be keeping shelters atop the priority list for state and local governments.

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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