Students deserve serious conversation about the school safety

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: May 23, 2013
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We owe the children at Plaza Towers and at Briarwood this conversation. It's the very least Oklahoma can do.

Schools are not financed in a way that would make a massive effort to install storm shelters large enough to house an entire student body a real possibility. That's especially true if talk trends to underground shelter, the preferred method of sheltering in the face of the most violent tornadoes such as the one that struck Monday. Unlike some states, Oklahoma provides almost no money for schools to pay for capital improvements. Schools largely rely on local bond issues, which are underwritten by property taxes, require supermajority voter approval and have strict limits on the amount that can be financed.

If a mandate for storm shelters makes its way from the state to school districts, the state would need to pay for it or provide a funding mechanism. Dorman is suggesting a statewide bond issue.

We've already heard the reasoning that it's too complicated to consider and work out the details this session. Maybe that's true. We do know this: The Legislature has no problem twisting arms and making things happen quickly when it wants to badly enough. We owe the little ones in Moore a serious conversation on school safety not related to guns, even with the clock ticking toward sine die.

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