DALLAS – A $36.7 million school bond referendum going to voters in Bartlesville, Okla., in September will not include $5 million to build storm shelters at the district’s six elementary schools.

Trustees of Washington County, Okla., Independent School District No. 30 had discussed putting the shelter project on the Sept. 10 ballot as a separate question, but voted unanimously June 27 for a capital program that does not include the shelters.

Board president Doug Divelbiss said the lack of shelters at the elementary schools became an issue in late May when seven students were killed and 68 were injured by a tornado that destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.

The middle school renovations to be funded with the proposed general obligation bonds have been have been planned over the past two years, he said.

Shelter proposals would have to be studied to determine the best options, Divelbiss said.

“The tornado shelter came as a following-along thing real recently," he said.

“I don’t think we’re going to sweep it under the rug, so to speak, and not address it,” Divelbiss said. “Personally, I think it is too early to be putting something out to a vote of the people.”

There are underground shelters at Bartlesville High and a few other facilities but none at the six elementary schools.

Superintendent Gary Quinn said the district may get help for funding the school storm shelters from the state or the federal government. A shelter program could be included in a future bond referendum, he said.

“I’m confident someday in the future there’ll be another bond issue,” he told trustees.

A measure for $500 million of Oklahoma state bonds to fund storm shelters at schools and private residences was filed by State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, late in the 2013 legislative session but failed to be heard before lawmakers adjourned. Dorman said he would propose a similar bill next year.

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