Norman schools defend new severe weather plans

NORMAN, Okla. – Norman Public Schools’ new severe weather plans went home with kids yesterday but have parents wondering, on a day like May 20th of last year, is it going to be chaos or a well-oiled machine?

The district is less than confident in the way Jackson Elementary was built.

The school is just not made to weather a tornado.

“Actually we’re kind of standing in an area that’s a great example,” says Assistant Superintendent Roger Brown. “You can see the wings, a lot of windows and outside walls.”

Their solution is to load everyone up and bus them less than a mile away to Alcott Middle School.

But what do you say to parents who picture their child loading a bus in hail as the sirens surround them?

“I don’t think it is a gamble,” says Brown. “It’s not like we just walk out and go, ‘Oh my gosh where did this come from?’ We’re going to know if it’s within an hour of Norman and we’re going to be moving.”

Dr. Brown is confident they will have plenty of time because of the district’s constant communication with weather officials.

“Like last May 20th for example we were on the phone numerous times with Norman Public Schools administration, providing information on storm location and timing and things like that,” says Meteorologist Rick Smith. “Their plan is really contingent on having lots of advance warning. For the big tornadoes like the one we saw last May you’re going to get that.”

If the unexpected happens, they will take shelter in the best way possible at Jackson Elementary.

Although this plan may not sound great to parents, Brown wants them to know he’s going to do what it takes to keep their kids safe.

Dr. Brown says local engineers told him, “If you’ve got time and can relocate the students at Jackson that would probably be something to really consider.”

Buses will be on standby at the school all day if there’s any threat.

Click here for Norman Schools’ sheltering locations.