FALLIN’S SHELTER PLAN
Fallin’s plan fails to build the storm shelters needed to protect school children, Dorman said.
Seven third-graders in Moore were crushed to death by school debris when a 2-mile wide EF-5 tornado ravaged Moore on May 20. It is the widest-tornado path on record nationally.
Fallin said the most reasonable way to protect students from harm is to let local school districts decide whether to pass bond issues to pay for shelters and other safety precautions. The governor encourages school districts to build storm shelters as new schools are built, she said.
Fallin said last week that she was pleased the House of Representatives passed a resolution earlier this month to allow communities that are unable to expand their bonding capacity to have a one-time expansion for a bond vote to be able to put in storm shelters and other safety measures.
“We actually have 700-plus schools that have storm shelters already of some sort,” Fallin said. “If they already have that, they can put in some bullet-proof glass or some type of area to protect receptionists.”
Fallin wants schools to be able to lock their doors if an intruder enters with harmful intentions, she said. However, Fallin said she remains concerned about how the state could choose which school gets a certain protection.
“There are some schools that have built gymnasiums that are fortified,” she said. “That’s a lot of money. And so do you let somebody build a new gymnasium that’s state-of-the-art that’s fortified or let them put in a band room that’s a classroom that’s fortified?”
Passing a bond issue requires the state to pay the money back. So Fallin questioned how the state can repay the bond without taking funding away from core services such as education or corrections.
“The way schools are funded right now — they’re not funded by state bond issues,” Fallin said. “School boards pass local bond issues and send it to a vote of the people.”
Business community support is not the same in all school districts, Fallin said. Some school districts are better off financially than other schools, she said.
So the governor said it is best not to change how the state supports school districts. Parents, business support and communities can decide whether they will pay for storm shelters for students, Fallin said.
“Her plan is just rhetoric and it won’t work. There is no way that will pass in districts,” Dorman said.
Four Oklahoma school districts representing Coalgate, Afton, Rush Springs and Muldrow voted against their respective bond proposals this month that would have funded the construction of storm shelters.
Fallin said voters in several other school districts have voted in favor of the bond issues for safe schools.
“She is simply creating a new type of bond issue that would have to pass by a 60 percent vote outside the current levels,” Dorman said. “You see bond issue after bond issue fail across the state because voters do not want to raise their property taxes any higher.”
Edmond Independent Richard Prawdzienski also has announced his candidacy for governor.
Candidate filing for 2014 statewide elections is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 9-11 at the state Capitol. Voters will nominate their party’s candidates June 24 for the statewide primary election.
A runoff primary election is set for Aug. 26. The state-wide general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.
TO LEARN more about gubernatorial candidate state Rep. Joe Dorman, visit his campaign website at www.joedorman.com. To learn more about Gov. Mary Fallin’s re-election campaign, go to www.maryfallin.org.