Eldon R-1 to build tornado safe building

The tornado safe room will be built between the two elementary buildings.

A $5.6 million bond issue approved by Eldon voters earlier this month will be used, in part, to help fund a tornado safe room.

The tornado safe room, which will double as an early learning center, costs a total of $2.3 million; a $1 million FEMA grant will go toward total cost.

The building, which will go between South School and Upper Elementary, is designed to hold 1,200 people and allow them all to get inside within five minutes.

"We're going to open it up in the evenings when our kids are not here, if there is a tornado scare and people need a place to go," Eldon R-1 Superintendent Matt Davis said.

"And so we're going to be part of our emergency plan and operation so that everyone in the community can use it if it's available."

Davis says they've been planning the safe room for three years, and originally had planned to build near the high school campus. That changed when a deadly tornado ripped through an elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma, last year.

"After watching Moore, Oklahoma, we asked to change the location to our elementary school because we know safety was our biggest concern for our kids. And that is the building that we do not have a tornado shelter or even an underground basement," Davis said.

Construction on the building is scheduled to begin late May and finish in February, 2015.

The bond will also fund fine arts auditorium renovations and safety improvements in the district, including adding closed front vestibules to the elementary and middle schools.

"And so as parents will walk into the building they'll be contained in just a lobby area, and we'll be able to take the kids backpacks or anything that the parents need or are dropping off at the office...but they're not going to have access to the entire school," Davis said.

He said he hopes those lobbies will be done by the start of school next year.

Davis says the April bond issue was a no tax increase bond issue, meaning tax payers won't see a rise in their taxes.