Local School District Adds 'Hardened Rooms' to Prepare for Natur - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Local School District Adds 'Hardened Rooms' to Prepare for Natural Disasters, Active Shooters

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

FORSAN - One local school district was in the middle of planning for their new elementary school when tragedy struck in Moore, Oklahoma. A tornado blew the town to smithereens. That was a game changer for the Forsan Independent School District. They made a major safety change to the blueprints.

"I think in every school there's probably emphasis in different areas. For us, this was a big deal," Randy Johnson, Superintendent of Forsan ISD, said.

It's a brand new elementary school in Forsan Independent School District. In the blueprint for this new school are hardened rooms. Their purpose is simple to save lives.

In May of last year, 81% of voters in Forsan approved these hardened rooms, also known as safe rooms, to be added to the soon-to-be elementary school.

"We don't live in tornado alley, but we do have - in my tenure here - we've had a half dozen scares that there's been a tornado in the area," Johnson said.

These hardened rooms are made to prepare for the unpredictable, like natural disasters or even an active shooter.

"They're spread around the building so we have access to them throughout the building. Students would be ushered into those spaces. We can then protect them in there with the lid on the top and the walls reinforced and so on, and keep whatever it is out," Johnson said.

These rooms will be different sizes, made to hold between 25 to 60 people.

If the roof were to collapse, these rooms will stay put.

"They have extra concrete in the walls. There's a concrete lid on the top. The foundation is a little bit thicker so they are made to withstand a lot of trauma," Johnson said.

The new elementary school is projected to be complete by the time classes begin in August of 2015.
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