storm shelter

An In-Depth Report Coming Monday
9:00 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Oklahoma AG Says School Shelter Petition Meets Law

Take Shelter Oklahoma working on their first petition drive.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office says the ballot title of an initiative petition to build storm shelters in public schools complies with state law.

Pruitt's office had five days from the date the petition was filed to make any changes needed to the ballot title. The office submitted a letter to the Secretary of State's Office Thursday that says the ballot title for State Question 774 complies with applicable laws.

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More Reporting This Coming Monday
8:20 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Group Files Second Storm Shelter Petition

Take Shelter Oklahoma's first petition effort.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

A group that wants to build storm shelters in every public school in Oklahoma has begun collecting signatures to place an initiative petition on a statewide ballot.

Tim Farley, spokesman for Take Shelter Oklahoma, says organizers began collecting signatures Wednesday. They must collect the signatures of 155,000 Oklahomavoters in 90 days to have the measure placed on the November ballot.

The petition drive comes more than a year after a tornado struck Moore on May 20, 2013, destroying two schools and killing seven children at the Plaza Towers Elementary School.

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After Late-Night Approval by the House
6:55 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Senate Kills Fallin-Backed Shelter Plan

Credit benchilada / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Senate has killed a proposal backed by Gov. Mary Fallin that would have called for a statewide vote allowing some school districts to increase property taxes to pay for safety upgrades like storm shelters and safe rooms.

The Senate voted 25-16 on Friday against the plan that had narrowly passed the House a day earlier.

The proposal would have sent to Oklahoma voters a proposal to allow school districts to exceed their bonding capacity one time over the next five years to pay for voter-approved safety initiatives, including storm shelters and safe rooms.

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State Capitol
9:07 am
Fri May 23, 2014

House Walks Back Storm Shelter Vote, Plaza Towers Parents Take Legal Action

Wooden crosses at the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., May 28, 2013, stand in memory of the seven students were killed during a tornado May 20, 2013.
SFC Kendall James defenseimagery.mil

The Oklahoma House reversed course Thursday night and narrowly passed a plan it had earlier defeated to help school districts pay for safety upgrades such as storm shelters and safe rooms.

House members voted 51-39 last night for the plan supported by Gov. Mary Fallin. It takes a minimum of 51 votes to pass a bill in the 101-member House.

The chamber had defeated the proposal hours earlier by a bipartisan vote of 61-34. House members said that Fallin's office had urged members of the majority GOP caucus to change their no votes.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon March 3, 2014

A Battle Of Words: School Shelter Hearing Goes To State Supreme Court

Take Shelter Oklahoma spent Fall 2013 gathering signatures for its initiative petition and State Question 767. The group fell short by more than 30,000.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

When the school shelter advocacy group Take Shelter Oklahoma formed several months ago, its goal was simple: to obtain enough signatures to get a $500 million bond issue on the ballot and use that money to build safe rooms in schools to protect kids from tornadoes. 

The group’s path has become a winding one, the most recent turn was at the State Supreme Court in a fight against Attorney General Scott Pruitt. 

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
1:15 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Fight For Safe Rooms Leads To Oklahoma Supreme Court

Credit hyku / Flickr / Creative Commons

Kathy Turner works with Take Shelter Oklahoma.  The group wants to build safe rooms to protect students from tornadoes like the one that destroyed Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools in Moore.  Turner says her experience as a former school administrator showed her how important government funding can be.

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Ahead of the Storm
8:44 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Parents, Officials Search For Solution To Oklahoma School Shelter Scarcity

Danni Legg transferred her children to Kelley Elementary in Moore, the only elementary school in the district with a safe area for tornadoes.
Credit Kate Carlton

Danni Legg transferred her two kids to Kelley Elementary this past August. She moved them from Plaza Towers Elementary, after the tornado in May destroyed the school, causing the death of her middle child, Christopher, along with six other students.  Legg says returning to Moore after the tragedy was something she did for her children. 

"I wanted my children to understand the town didn't kill their brother," Legg said. "A tornado and the lack of good construction in the building is what killed their brother."

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:47 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Mapped: Which Oklahoma Schools Have Storm Shelters

Red dots indicate schools without shelters. Green dots are schools with shelters.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The results of a statewide survey released Thursday show 62 percent of Oklahoma’s 1,804 public schools don’t have storm shelters, and only 15 percent have shelters built to withstand the 250 mph winds of an EF5 tornado, like the ones that swept through central Oklahoma in May 2013.

StateImpact has mapped the data from the survey, the first statewide accounting of public school storm shelters, which was conducted by Bar None Consulting for the Oklahoma Legislature’s use in an interim study.

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State Capitol
1:17 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

UPDATE: Group Launches Oklahoma School Shelter Ballot Drive

State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs)
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

Organizers have launched a signature-gathering campaign for a $500 million bond issue to put storm shelters in public schools.

The group Take Shelter Oklahoma filed a petition on Wednesday with the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office to get the issue on a statewide ballot. Once the ballot language is given final approval by the attorney general, supporters have 90 days to gather about 155,000 signatures of registered voters.

The plan calls for the debt service on the bond issue to be paid by the annual franchise tax levied on businesses.

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May 2013 Tornado Coverage
1:31 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

School Year Begins In Moore, Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin tours the damage of Plaza Tours Elementary School in Moore in the days after the May 20, 2013 tornado.
Credit The National Guard / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Meghna Chakrabarti's conversation with Moore Public Schools Superintendent Robert Romines.

Students are back in school in Moore, Oklahoma, nearly three months after a deadly tornado tore through town.

The storm killed a total of 25 people, including seven third-graders who had hunkered down at the Plaza Towers Elementary School with their teachers.

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