Could your OKC school get a saferoom?

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Public School district is considering saferoom construction as part of all new construction district-wide.

The district built five saferooms as part of the MAPS for Kids projects about a decade ago.

Since 2004, the district hasn’t constructed a single saferoom.

In fact, they haven’t even considered saferoom construction until recently.

If your children go to Oklahoma City Public Schools, they likely have no protection from severe weather while they are at school.

There are 74 schools in the district and five saferooms in five schools.

The district saferooms are located at: John Marshall, U.S. Grant, Douglass, Martin Luther King Elementary and Wheeler Elementary.

SAFEROOMS: Click here for a status report on the Oklahoma City Schools elementary gymnasium projects.

District saferooms at those five school buildings hold 6,192 students total.

It appears the district is moving in a new direction and beginning to look into the possibility of building saferooms at schools with planned new construction.

“No one on this board is apathetic or opposed or indifferent to saferooms for our children when it comes to tornado season,” board member Jay Means said at the Oct. 7 school board meeting.

The Oklahoma City School Board voted Oct. 7 to build a saferoom at Nichols Hills Elementary. It was unanimous.

Monday night, the board announced that they will be re-voting on the Nichols Hills gymnasium because of a technicality.

Also, on September 16th, the board voted to build a saferoom gymnasium at Chavez Elementary.

“I think it’s our responsibility to be the ringleaders and support what we talk about and not just talk about it but act on it,” board member Justin Ellis said on October 7th.

Tony Blatt is the architect on the Nichols Hills project, an 8000-square-foot gymnasium.

Hornbeek and Blatt Architecture Firm is re-working the gymnasium blue-prints to include FEMA-rated protection; they are ahead of schedule.

When complete the gymnasium will be a saferoom for at least 1,750 people.

“It’s the first one,” Blatt said. “The work that’s done here, everything is going to be evaluated against it. Whether it’s schedule or budget or constructability.”

The district has refused our recent requests for an interview on this topic.

However, according to public discussion during school board meetings, the district is looking into the possibility of saferooms at elementary schools across the city.

New construction is already planned at 25 elementary schools.

According to the OKC MAPS office, there are five elementary gymnasiums completed at the following schools: Coolidge, Van Buren, Hayes, Monroe and Wheeler.

There are 16 schools where gym construction is underway, including: West Nichols Hills, Parmelee, Hillcrest, Pierce, Adams, Bodine, Horace Mann, Kaiser, Mark Twain, Putman Heights, Southern Hills, Stand Watie, Buchanan, Gatewood, Johnson and Oakridge.

For those 21 schools it is too late for a saferoom option in the gymnasium project.

However, even though the gym at Wheeler Elementary is not a saferoom, it does have a MAPS for Kids saferoom.

There are 11 Oklahoma City school gyms in the design phase, including: Heronville, Fillmore, Prairie Queen, Rockwood, Eugene Field, Lee, Britton, Arthur, Parks, Willow Brook, and Nichols Hills.

For those 11 schools, the district could potentially incorporate a saferoom into the gymnasium project before construction begins.

The gymnasiums have not yet been designed at the following 16 schools: Chavez, Hawthorne, Sequoya, North Highland, Linwood, Ridgeview, Quail Creek, Cleveland, Shidler, Rancho Village, Western Village, Green Pastures, Spencer, Edgemere, Edwards and Wilson.

The district could ask the architects on those projects to incorporate a saferoom into the gymnasium plan at those schools.

In fact, the district is planning for a saferoom gymnasium at Chavez Elementary.

In total, 27 Oklahoma City Elementary Schools could potentially have saferooms for students and staff in the next few years.

Experts estimate adding saferoom protection could cost as little as ten percent more.

District officials believe it will be 20 or 30 percent more, per saferoom.

Interim Superintendent Dave Lopez told the school board on Oct. 7 the funding is available for the Nichols Hills project now.

We know the Chavez Elementary gym will be funded by surplus MAPS for Kids funding.

Lopez will be working to identify new funding sources to make sure the district can pay to build saferooms at the other 67 unprotected schools around town.

“We will not be able to, with current funding, fund a saferoom in every school unless we have a future bond issue that has that as part of its element,” Lopez said.

“I want to make sure that we just don’t stop here, and say, ‘Well, we can’t find other monies,’ and so we need to be aggressively doing right by all the kids in the district and all the parents in this district. I am 100 percent for it,” board member Ruth Veales said during the Oct. 7 meeting.

NewsChannel 4 will be watching closely to make sure this district follows through on their intentions to build safer schools.>

SAFEROOMS: Click here for a status report on the Oklahoma City Schools elementary gymnasium projects.

School Name Address Gym Design
Completion
Gym Construction Start Date Gym Construction Completion
Coolidge 5212 S Villa Ave Complete 05/15/12 05/08/13
Van Buren 2700 SW 40th Complete 05/15/12 05/08/13
Hayes 6900 S Byers Ave Complete 05/15/12 05/08/13
Wheeler 501 SE 25th Complete 05/31/12 07/22/13
West Nichols Hills 8400 Greystone Ave Complete 05/31/12 04/10/14
Monroe 4810 N Linn Ave Complete 05/31/12 07/22/13
Nichols Hills 1301 W Wilshire Blvd Pending saferoom
Parmelee 6700 S Hudson Ave Complete 07/08/13 04/12/14
Hillcrest 6421 S Miller Blvd Complete 03/01/13 01/12/14
Pierce 2701 Tulsa Ave Complete 03/01/13 01/12/14
Adams 3416 SW 37th Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Bodine 5301 S Bryant Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Horace Mann 1105 NW 45th Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Kaiser 3101 Lyon Blvd Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Mark Twain 2451 W Main Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Putnam Heights 1601 NW 36th Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Southern Hills 7800 S Kentucky Ave Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Stand Watie 3517 S Linn Ave Complete 07/03/13 07/03/14
Buchanan 4126 NW 18th Complete 07/03/13 07/14/14
Gatewood 1821 NW 21st Complete 07/03/13 07/14/14
Johnson 1810 Sheffield Rd Complete 07/03/13 07/14/14
Oakridge 4200 Leonhardt Dr Complete 07/03/13 07/14/14
Heronville 1240 SW 29 95%
Fillmore 5200 Blackwelder Ave 95%
Prairie Queen 6609 S Blackwelder Ave 95%
Rockwood 3101 SW 24th 95%
Eugene Field 1515 N Klein Ave 95%
Lee 424 SW 29th Contract Neg.
Britton 1215 NW 95th Contract Neg.
Arthur 5100 SW Independence Ave Contract Neg.
Parks 1501 NE 30th Contract Neg.
Willow Brook 8105 NE 10th Contract Neg.
Hawthorne 2300 NW 15th
Sequoya 2400 NW 36th
North Highland 8400 N Robinson Ave
Linwood 3416 NW 17th
Ridgeview 10010 Ridgeview Dr
Quail Creek 11700 Thorn Ridge Rd
Cleveland 2725 NW 23rd
Shidler 1415 S Byers Ave
Rancho Village 1401 Johnston Dr
Western Village 1508 NW 106th
Green Pastures 4300 N Post Rd
Spencer 8900 NE 50th
Edgemere 3200 N Walker Ave
Edwards 1123 NE Grand Blvd
Wilson 2215 N Walker Ave