MOORE — Robert Romines knew it was going to be tough when he accepted the job as the new Moore Public Schools superintendent. But that was before a tornado ripped through his hometown May 20 and destroyed two of his schools.
Now, after being on the job for a week, Romines is discovering just how difficult of a challenge it is. Yet, the Moore native is relishing the opportunity to help his town get back on its feet.
“I’ve been in this community all my life,” Romines said. “Transitioning into the superintendent’s role has not been difficult, especially with the community support and the people in this district. I literally feel like I have thousands of hands propping me up on my back.”
Romines had been the assistant superintendent the past few years. But when Susan Pierce announced her retirement in April, he was chosen to replace her.
Romines officially started July 1. Much of his work the first week has been directed at tornado relief and getting the school district ready for the upcoming school year, which starts in less than two months.
“Originally I had two plans,” Romines said. “I had my first 100 days and I had my first year. That has totally been rewritten since the storms. My first original 100 days didn’t include a plan to relocate two elementary schools. So we had to backtrack and pull back. I’ve got people working on that, making sure those communities stay together this next school year at Briarwood and Plaza. Fortunately, we are going to make it work.”
Romines inherits a school district that lost Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools and its technology center. Highland East Junior High sustained major damage and the administration building has been rendered uninhabitable. This has forced Romines and his administrative staff to work out of the media center at Moore High.
Another 20 schools in Moore suffered damage from the May 31 tornado.
Romines is confident the school district will be back up and running efficiently because of the help he’s getting from his staff and from those outside the school district, such as Genghis Grill in Moore, which presented Romines a check for $18,000 Monday.
“Not only are the businesses, but the school districts are helping out,” Romines said. “Norman Public Schools is helping us out with furniture on the two elementary schools that were a total loss. Stillwater Public Schools has helped us out by helping us acquire materials for teachers’ classrooms.
“It literally takes a village to raise a child. It just happens to be that Moore Public Schools is everybody’s child right now. Everybody has stepped up to the plate and helped us out. That has made my job that much easier.”
Despite that, Romines said they will need even more assistance as they attempt to get the schools back to pre-storm days.
“Help is very much needed,” Romines said. “We have insurance, of course. And we’ve got FEMA. But with the magnitude and the scope of what we’ve been dealt with on May 20 and May 31, insurance and FEMA probably won’t cover everything. Just the total loss and devastation from those two storms, every little bit helps. We have an uphill battle to climb, but we are getting there day by day.”