During the first few months of 2017, the city of Southlake was in the process of adopting new building codes related to storm shelters, said Julie Thannum, assistant superintendent for board and community relations. In light of these new codes, the district decided to schedule new storm shelter projects at each of the district’s 15 facilities.
“We will do all the projects [from the 2017 bond],” Thannum said. “If the storm shelters put us over, we will use interest earned on bond funds or fund balance.”
The storm shelters range from $1.2-$1.8 million in building costs. Six storm shelters are currently being built or nearing completion from the 2017 bond package.
At Carroll and Johnson elementary schools, the new gyms are doubling as storm shelters. The new gyms will be able to withstand 250 mile-per-hour winds and will have self-contained water and sanitary systems, Wi-Fi, and an inverter to provide power and air circulation, Thannum said.
At Old Union Elementary, a new classroom wing is being built on the southeast side of the campus, Thannum said. Some of the classrooms in the new wing will double as storm shelters, and together, they will be able to hold the entire school’s population.
Rockenbaugh and Walnut Grove are still in their design phases, but they will most likely be similar to Old Union’s plan, Thannum said. Carroll Senior High School’s storm shelter will be in its new music center.
All the shelters will have emergency battery packs, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and equipment to communicate with first responders.
Cameras are also being installed to monitor the skies to give students and staff the best notice of a storm so they can evacuate, Thannum said.
For the five remaining schools, Thannum predicts discussions about the next bond will include adding a shelter to them, too.
“We’ve always said there was going to be another bond,” she said. “[The district] will have to go back before voters around 2022 and make a recommendation.”