school shelters

David Slane and Danni Legg (center) ask the public for petition signatures as a "last ditch effort" to get a school safe room issue on a future ballot.
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

A group that wants storm shelters in every Oklahoma school has spent the last 90 days gathering signatures to get its initiative petition on the ballot. Take Shelter Oklahoma is still tens of thousands of signatures short of the required amount, but  proponents now have more time than they originally thought. 

Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

A group that wants to install a tornado shelter in every public school in Oklahoma spent the holiday weekend gathering signatures to get its initiative petition on an upcoming ballot. 

This isn’t Take Shelter Oklahoma’s first attempt to collect 155,000 signatures, but the group is giving it another shot. 

Supporters of Take Shelter Oklahoma stood on the porch of David Slane’s Oklahoma City law office last week to celebrate the launch of their second signature gathering campaign.

gtquast / Flickr

Last month, a proposal to fund school shelter construction using property taxes passed a State House committee. It was the only shelter bill the House of Representatives heard, and it’s supported by Governor Mary Fallin. 

This week, lawmakers may vote to put it on the November ballot. 

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. 

Andrea Booher / FEMA

The death of seven students in the tornado that hit Moore’s Plaza Towers Elementary School last May has ignited an ongoing debate about storm shelters and school safety. State lawmakers and advocacy groups are calling for better school construction to protect kids from future storms, and some people are now also raising questions about whether they should simply keep their kids home when severe weather is in the forecast. 

hyku

A proposal supported by Gov. Mary Fallin to help local school districts pay for safety upgrades like storm shelters and safe rooms has cleared a House committee. 

The House Appropriations and Budget Committee on Wednesday voted 18-5 for the measure, despite opposition from the mother of one of seven children killed when a tornado struck a Moore elementary school in May.

The bill calls for a statewide vote for a constitutional amendment that would allow every school district to pursue a one-time increase in bonding capacity for safety upgrades.

hyku

For the past three months, people across the state have been gathering signatures for State Question 767, a proposal to allow the state franchise tax to pay for tornado shelters in schools.  

The 90-day time period for collecting those signatures ran out last week, and supporters were 35,000 signatures short. They’re now awaiting the outcome of a legal challenge, claiming the deck was stacked against them.