Petition drive for statewide storm shelter initiative kicks off

Matt Swearengin mswearengin@civitasmedia.com

July 2, 2014

A petition drive began today for a proposed state question that would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to allow the sale of bonds to fund storm shelters at schools.

David Slane, an attorney for Take Shelter Oklahoma, has volunteered to help the group get the proposal on the November election. He was in Durant on Tuesday and stopped by The Democrat and also spoke to the Bryan County Democrats.

Take Shelter Oklahoma is a grassroots campaign to construct storm shelters in all Oklahoma schools. According to its Website, more than 506,000 students and staff in Oklahoma’s schools are unprotected from tornadoes.

Take Shelter Oklahoma is collecting signatures from registered Oklahoma voters to place a $500 million state bond on the ballot to fund shelters in schools. It is paid for by the current franchise tax, so the initiative does not raise any taxes, according to the organization.

Slane said two of his children attend Moore Schools, where the deadly tornado hit in May 2013.

“To me, it’s kind of personal,” he said. “For five hours that day, I didn’t know if my children were alive or dead.”

Slane’s children survived, and after he met with mothers of children who did not survive, he said he vowed to do everything in his power so that no parent has to send their child to school and wonder if they will be safe.

He said Oklahomans have a moral obligation to protect children at the state’s schools.

“May is the most active month for tornadoes,” Slane said. “In May, our students are still in school, so we have to do something to protect our students.”

According to Slane, the organization has 90 days to collect approximately 160,000 signaturesto get the petition on the November ballot.

“I think most people will support this,” Slane said. “We just need to get the word out.”

- Matt Swearengin can be reached at 924-4388 or DDDEditor@Twitter.com.