The Norman Transcript

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May 23, 2013

School administrators focused on the recovery, future

MOORE — Just days after Moore Public Schools suffered the loss of nine students and complete destruction of Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools, administrators take it a day at a time, as details continue to emerge from affected areas and plans for the future remain uncertain.

“Currently our priority is regaining connectivity and basic housekeeping,” said Moore Superintendent Susan Pierce. “We plan to figure out the relocation of Plaza Towers and Briarwood students’ 2013/2014 classes next week and hope to be able to publicize that information July 1.”

Public scrutiny concerning fortified shelters or basements in school facilites has generated discussion of state legislation, but Pierce said the school district’s construction plans through its recent bond issue must remain the same.

“Re-prioritizing bond dollars is not possible, they’re passed for very specific things,” Pierce said. “General obligation bond money may be flexible but Monday’s events won’t change our bond issue plan. Outfitting schools with shelters is certainly something we’ll look at, we’re hoping there may be FEMA money available for that purpose.”

Moore’s $126 million bond issue was passed Feb. 12 and will include the construction of two elementary schools and a junior high school.

Plaza Towers and Briarwood will be rebuilt through insurance proceeds, Pierce said.

Regarding the storm preparedness of each school, including the sites of the district’s fatalities, Pierce was resolute in her assessment that every teacher reacted as trained and did everything they could have done.

“We have a protocol that’s practiced several times a year, we know what to do and the kids know what to do, I believe the teachers followed that protocol, protected their children and accounted for their safety. Teachers were heroic in their efforts,” Pierce said.

Pierce emphasized that tornado precautions in the district are specific to each school site, depending upon the building’s configuration as determined by civil defense engineers.

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