GODDARD, Kan. (KSNW) – With the new school year underway, many local school districts continue to focus on security and safety.
Back in April, Goddard voters approved a $52 million school bond that would add tornado shelters and intruder safety locks, among other safety projects.
Amelia Earhart Elementary School is one of nine schools getting a new tornado shelter.
Right now, students use the bathrooms as a storm shelter — something staff said isn’t the safest option.
The new tornado shelter will be designed up to FEMA standards, and will include most of the features of a FEMA-rated storm shelter — reinforced walls and roof structures, heavy gauged steel, and doors that can withstand a missile-impact.
“If a tornado was to come at three o’clock in the afternoon and you can’t get to the school in time to pick the kids up, you can feel comfortable and rest at ease that the kids are being taken care of in these buildings,” said Matt Hamm, USD 265’s bond issue plan manager.
According to school staff, they look forward to the shelters being multipurpose. At Amelia Earhart, the 14,000 sq. ft. shelter will double as several classrooms.
“We are stuffed to the capacity,” explained Tracy Giddens, principal of Amelia Earhart. “Our district has grown for the last 35 years, and over the last two years, my building has gained over 50 students, so we need this space not only for the shelter but for the functionality in our building.”
At Amelia Earhart, the shelter will be built off the west end of the school, straight to the west into the parking lot, and staff plan to replace that lot with a new one.
Many of the schools are in the final planning phases. Construction is expected to begin next year.
School safety locks
Another safety project included in the school bond is the addition of intruder safety locks at every school in the Goddard school district.
The installation of the locks begin in December.
According to school staff, they’re looking forward to the new locks because the current locks are inconvenient and they’re not safe.
“The intruder style locks will either have a key way inside, where we can easily lock the door with a key, or a simple push button like you would have at home,” said Goddard schools Police Chief Rony Lieurance.
WATCH: KSN’s Amanda Aguilar explains why the current locks are a concern for school staff and demonstrates how they are not safe.
Chief Lieurance said the new locks won’t put staff or students in harm’s way.
District officials thank voters for approving the bond, saying it shows they care about the students just as much as the district does.