USD 259 storm shelter work continues

WICHITA, Kansas – With Severe Weather Awareness Week right around the corner, USD 259 is taking active measures when it comes to building storm shelters for every school in the district.

It is all part of the voter approved 2008 bond issue.

One school that received a new shelter is Pleasant Valley Elementary.

“Built created and designed to withstand an EF-5 tornado winds up to 250 miles per hour,” said Cindy Graves, Pleasant Valley Elementary principal.

It was added last December and will be a different kind of safety protection for more than 300 students at the school.

“In the past, our kids were in the hallway or in classrooms so we had a variety of different places where kids were safe in case of severe weather. Now, we’ll have everybody all together,” said Graves.

The principal says construction on the shelter started last spring and was finished in December.

Pleasant Valley Elementary is just one of 77 schools in the district that now has a shelter.

District Division Director of Facilities Julie Hedricks says construction progress for the remaining 13 schools are moving right along.

Of the 13 schools left, construction is expected to wrap up at Mead, Marshall, and West High School by spring, and 10 schools are still in the design phase.

“We’re on track to get those designed and bid and under construction so that we can meet our final goal,” said Hedricks.

A goal some parents and teachers believe could possibly save a life in the end.

“People send their kids to school hoping they’re going to be safe, and they want them to be,” said Richard Goodschmidt. “I think that just another thing for parents to know that when they send their kids to school that if there is a tornado, they are going to be taken care of.”

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