Historic Edmond school buildings get tornado shelters

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EDMOND, Okla. - Edmond Schools continues to set the bar high when it comes to sheltering their student body in saferooms for severe weather.

Tornado shelter construction is underway at three of the district's oldest school buildings.

In Edmond, every building constructed after 1990 is built with a tornado saferoom.

Currently, there are enough shelters to protect about half of the student body if severe weather strikes during the school day.

For students in the district's pre-1990 buildings, there is no protection.

In May 2015, the district passed a $91 million bond.

A portion of that funding will pay for saferoom add-ons at schools with no shelter.

"We have consistently heard from parents, 'When my child is at school...' They want them to be safe. 'And, what can you do about that?'" said district spokesperson Susan Parks-Schlepp.

The 2015 bond will pay for tornado shelters in seven schools:

  • Clyde Howell Early Child Center $500,000
  • Clegern Elementary $1,000,000
  • Ida Freeman Elementary $2,500,000
  • John Ross Elementary $2,900,000
  • Orvis Risner Elementary $2,500,000
  • Russell Dougherty Elementary $1,000,000
  • Sunset Elementary $3,000,000

The district will build the shelters in order of at the schools with the biggest need.

Construction has already begun at Clegern, Russell Doughterty and Clyde Howell.

The saferooms will be different at each school site.

Some schools will get a new saferoom gymnasium, others will get a saferoom media center, saferoom band room or saferoom classrooms.

The projects will cost $500,000 to $3,000,000 each.

"We took an audit of every facility. We took a look at the spaces that these buildings already needed," said Parks-Schlepp. "We want to build what they need and spend a little bit more to have that add-on serve a dual purpose as a (tornado) shelter."

Clegern Elementary was built in 1931.

The elementary school has never had a gymnasium.

Clegern's 200 students have always had to use their cafeteria space as a gym.

"We are so excited to get a new gym for our students who, up until now, have been playing and having gym time in the cafeteria," said principal Teri Cowden-Draper.

A similar bond issue up will be up for a vote in 2017 to fund construction at the rest of the school sites including a band room saferoom at Memorial High School and saferoom classroom space at Santa Fe High School.

The district is also adding additional saferoom classrooms at Heritage Elementary School which was just built two years ago.

The goal is 100 percent protection for every student and staff member in the district.

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