The Norman Transcript

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December 11, 2012

NPS certification offers peace of mind

NORMAN — Norman Public Schools’ recent Storm Ready certification with the National Weather Service may seem like a basic precautionary measure, but it’s not that simple.

The greater issue is the peace of mind for parents, students, teachers and administrators this level of preparedness should mean, especially in light of weather events earlier this year,

“I think the April 13 tornado made us look at procedures that worked and didn’t work, and re-working the plan we had in place instigated the certification process,” Assistant Superintendent Roger Brown said.

The Storm Ready plan improves aspects of the previous district plan which might have been too vague, said Stephanie Siewert of Weather Decision Technologies, who helped guide the district’s revisions.

“All around improvement put a lot more detail into the plan, now each administrator knows exactly what to do and what their responsibilities are, and there are contingency plans in case certain administrators aren’t present during a weather event,” Siewert said. “Roger and I began working on getting the certification shortly after the April 13 tornado, and it was a thorough process, it took about two months.”

“The process is a written application and centers on careful documentation of how an entity has planned to receive weather information, and disseminate warnings — the point is good preparation through communication and information,” Rick Smith of the National Weather Service said.

The district received official plaques and signs for its storm ready certification at the Nov. 19 school board meeting, but the process was actually completed in August and postponed because of a minor miscommunication, Siewert said.

Major benefits include improved methods of weather awareness, such as desktop versions of WDT’s top-tier tracking software, multiple means of receiving warnings through weather radios and smart-phone applications in the event of a power outage, and better methods of communication with school sites and bus drivers.

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