El Reno made statewide news Monday by going to school.
When most districts told students to stay home because of the threat of severe weather, El Reno did just the opposite.
It was the right call.
El Reno is one of the only districts in the state, maybe the entire nation that dedicated resources to building a secure storm shelter at every public school. Where would kids have been more safe last Monday? In a bathtub or closet at home or below ground with thousands of pounds of earth and concrete standing between them and the fury produced by Mother Nature.
I read recently Altus approved a bond issue that is intended to help build storm shelters at its public schools. Altus hadn’t supported a school bond issue in 60 years.
On May 30, 2013, several of us stood in the alley behind the Tribune and watched as the sky grew more and more dark almost directly to the west. It was early evening and school had dismissed for summer vacation.
What would have happened had that storm not turned to the south and skirted the outskirts of town? Many, many people suffered devastating property losses that day and nine people lost their lives in Canadian County. All who died were inside vehicles.
But imagine if that storm had moved in a straight line. It makes you sick to think of it.
Thank God it didn’t and bless the El Reno Public Schools officials who had the vision and the courage to build the shelters.
And to hold school last Monday when most didn’t.
This is how Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, summed up the just completed 2019 session of the Oklahoma Legislature.
“This year the Legislature advanced many important reforms that OCPA has endorsed for years. Those measures, if implemented correctly, should result in better oversight of government and less waste,” Small said.
“However, the Legislature’s inability to expand the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program is a particularly glaring failure, especially since lawmakers doubled a ‘Hollywood handout,’ a voucher that sends millions of dollars to out-of-state producers such as disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“Thousands of children with special needs, kids struggling with addiction, and students living with the challenges of poverty are desperately seeking to attend schools that can best serve them, and this session let them down. Those children deserve better, and OCPA will continue to advocate for them.”
For what it’s worth, I think he’s right.
Maybe next year.