Owasso finishing work on school safe room, upcoming bond issue would pay for more
OWASSO, Okla. (KTUL) – Owasso is one of the school districts that has made changes since the deadly 2013 EF-5 tornado that took the lives of several school children in Moore, Okla.
Owasso is now completing their first safe room at Ator Heights Elementary. It has a full-sized basketball court and more for the 605 students and staff members who walk through the doors each morning.
The final clean-up and finishing work are underway, but the gym can provide protection from bad weather right now.
It offers some serious protection because the giant concrete slabs that make up the ceiling and walls are welded together.
Steve Dunn is the district’s Director of Facilities and Operations and he says the structure is impressive.
“It’s rated for an EF-5 tornado and it’s precast, post-tension, 12-inch thick walls and ceilings, so it’s all there,” he said.
Everyone involved is grateful for the district’s voters.
Owasso has had a tornado in each of the last two springs, so the school’s principal is relieved.
Jennifer Newton said, “Just to know that when we’re in there we’re good. I don’t have to worry about is this wall going to hold up or is a desk going to fall on a child?”
The safe gym even has restrooms built inside the secure area and special ventilation.
Dunn said it’s worth every penny.
"You can never be too safe when you’re dealing with the greatest asset of the community, and that’s the kids," he said.
In the school lobby, artwork shows the Owasso Ram blasting through the wall.
That will never happen here with a tornado.
The next bond issue is for $57 million Oct. 10 and would provide funding for three more safe rooms.