The Norman Transcript


December 14, 2013

NPS looks at safety



“The parents and principals that I have talked to really appreciate the secure entries in their schools because they have created an obvious change in the dynamics of the buildings,” Siano said.

Safe rooms provide safe shelter during an invasion by an intruder or during strong storms like tornados. With the recent devastating May tornados, many parents and residents are concerned with equipping schools with safe rooms. The following schools would receive renovations that incorporate safe rooms: Norman High and Norman North both would get collegiate centers that contain safe rooms; Irving Middle School would get a classroom addition with safe room and a wrestling/safe room combination; Whittier Middle School would get a wrestling/safe room combination; Lincoln Elementary School would get a classroom addition with safe room and a cafeteria/safe room combination; and Reagan Elementary School would get a four-classroom pod addition with safe room.

Siano said that neither secure entryways or safe rooms were focused on more than the other, and that new additions to schools would always incorporate tornado shelters.

Enclosed classrooms create classrooms with traditional walls and a door that provide a teacher with the ability to lock down his or her classroom. At the time of the 2009 bond, the school district had four open concept classrooms. Two of those four schools, Irving and Whittier Middle Schools, were remodeled to become enclosed classroom buildings.

“You don’t think about it, but it sets a tone,” Brown said. “I want students to feel like they’re in a learning environment.”

Currently, Kennedy Elementary and Eisenhower Elementary have open classroom concepts in which a mishmash of materials, including dry erase boards, book shelves, computers, desks, etc., create separation between classes that are contained in one large space. Siano said he believed the biggest advantage of enclosed classrooms is the sense of security they provide teachers, but that there might be instructional impact as well, as teachers may utilize activities and lessons that might not be appropriate previously due to noise level for example.

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