New Elementary School in Tenn. Will have Safe Rooms

by Greg Pollowitz


Cleveland, Tenn.’s newest elementary school may be, structurally speaking, one of the safest in the nation when it opens in 2015.

The school, still in the conceptual stage, will include a reinforced safe room in each classroom. The closet-type rooms will lock from the inside, providing protection from storms and intruders alike.

Both natural and manmade threats at schools weighed on the nation’s consciousness during the 2012-13 academic year, when 26 innocents were gunned down in a Newtown, Conn., school and the bodies of seven children were pulled out of an Oklahoma elementary school that took a direct hit from an EF5 tornado.

Cleveland officials think their plan will protect against both threats. And, unlike some other proposals to bolster school safety, system Superintendent Martin Ringstaff said the 30 or so safe rooms won’t break the bank. The cost is mostly in additional square footage. Even while aiming to cut the school’s cost from about $18 million to $15 million, Ringstaff says the rooms will be affordable and cost efficient.

“It was just one of those genius ideas,” Ringstaff said. “We can’t believe we hadn’t thought of it before.”. . .