KGOU

school storm shelters

Architect Gary Armbruster of MA+ Architecture designed Canadian Valley Technology Center's new campus in El Reno.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Preschool students run tiny hands through a plastic tub of little blue beads that look like fish. They then scurry across the room to sing “The wheels on the bus” with their classmates.

It’s a bright, colorful, happy room here at the Canadian Valley Technical Center’s Child Development Center in El Reno, Oklahoma. And just a few steps down the hall, child care director Barbi Slimp opens the door to another room that’s just as cheerful.

David Slane and Danni Legg (center) ask the public for petition signatures as a "last ditch effort" to get a school safe room issue on a future ballot.
Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

A group that wants storm shelters in every Oklahoma school has spent the last 90 days gathering signatures to get its initiative petition on the ballot. Take Shelter Oklahoma is still tens of thousands of signatures short of the required amount, but proponents now have more time than they originally thought. 

JTobiason Photography / Flickr.com

Efforts are underway to place initiatives involving storm shelters and marijuana sales on this November's ballot.

Whether this year's measures would help one candidate or party is unclear. A cockfighting initiative on the 2002 ballot drew large numbers of rural Democrats to the polls, and that was the year an underdog Democratic state senator from Shawnee named Brad Henry won the governor's race.

Henry won with 43.3% of the vote, compared to Republican Steve Largent with 41.6% and conservative independent Gary Richardson with 14.1%. 

Ballot initiatives must be submitted 60 days for inclusion on the ballot, so both petitions must be submitted by September 5th. Oklahoma ballot initiatives have 90 days to gather all signatures, and at the latest must be submitted 60 days before an election -- in this case, September 5th. The medical marijuana initiative began June 3rd. The recreational marijuana initiative began June 16th. The storm shelter initiative began July 2nd.