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Sound Off

Sound Off: Shelters at schools

Considering the devastation that occurred to the schools in Moore, Okla., will the school board consider using part of the bond issue to build safe rooms or get underground shelters established in the Lawrence schools because apparently they’re not safe as they are now?

According to Julie Boyle, communications director for the Lawrence school district, none of the district’s buildings currently have storm shelters or “safe rooms” that meet guidelines of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Superintendent Rick Doll, however, says the FEMA guidelines for community safe rooms are being taken into consideration in the designs for remodeling and construction process being funded by the recently passed $92.5 million bond issue. “Though these spaces are not FEMA-funded, new district construction standards reflect FEMA guidelines for wind speeds of up to 250 mph, debris impact, floor elevations above flood levels and life safety protection elements for over 50 occupants,” Doll said. Board decisions on actual construction will be made as part of the design process, he added. Meanwhile, Doll said, “all of our schools have emergency preparedness plans that direct students to the safest parts of our buildings. Lawrence USD 497 has and continues to work with Douglas County Emergency Management, which has done audits of our schools and made recommendations as to where the shelter areas are located. The district continues to evaluate these plans.”

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