End in Sight for MPS School Storm Shelters ProjectApr 10, 2019
In the wake of the deadly May 20, 2013 tornado, Moore voters overwhelmingly approved a five-year $209 million bond issue that would put storm shelters in nearly two dozen schools that did not have them at the time. That bond issue was approved in fall 2015, and this spring Superintendent Robert Romines said the project is nearly done.
“This time next year we will be at 100%,” said Romines. “We’ve come a long, long way over the past three years and great things have been accomplished.”
Before the 2013 tornado, only two schools in the Moore school district had shelters.
“Westmoore High and Kelley Elementary had shelters because, after the 1999 storm, FEMA came in and helped fund shelters as we pretty much completely rebuilt both of those sites,” said Romines.
After the 2013 storm, FEMA once again came alongside MPS to help with rebuilds at Highland East, Plaza Towers, and Briarwood and one other location. Romines said the task of putting shelters in every other school in Moore required a lot of planning and work to make sure the school district took advantage of the project to help meet needs at every school site.
“We went to every single site and determined what their needs were at that point in time,” said Romines. “Whether it was classroom space, media centers, gymnasiums or other things. We determined that building a storm shelter as a part of new construction to meet those needs was the most cost-effective way of doing things.”
It took a year to plan all of that out before presenting the bond issue to the public. Romines said the plan has proven to be hugely successful, allowing schools to meet their specific needs while also providing a safe place for students and staff in the event of severe weather.
“I’m so proud of all the work our folks have done as well as the overall community and their support in putting all of this together,” said Romines. “It’s been a huge undertaking, and we’ve been able to do it in just three years. That’s remarkable.”
Now that the project is coming to an end, Romines said administrators are taking a hard look at what’s next for Moore Public Schools.
“We’ve got some infrastructure in regards to technology and some things that we need to focus on now in terms of potential growth for the future,” said Romines. “A lot of things have changed, and there’s a lot that we need to play catch-up on to provide for our students. But things are going great, and we want to say a huge ‘Thank You!’ to the community for their support. There are great, great things ahead.”