Severe weather school plan: Superintendents share insight - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Severe weather school plan: Superintendents share insight


As rescue efforts continue in Oklahoma, school administrators closer to home have safety top of mind.

Everyone remembers the tragic events in Enterprise, Alabama where a tornado killed eight students inside Enterprise High School and a nearby resident.

That storm raises the question: are students safer at home or in the school building?

"They're safer at home," says mother, Jessica Taylor.

Taylor nor her friend Cindy Odom leave their kids' safety to the school system.

"My mother always checked us out when it came bad weather, so it's something I've always done."

Taylor admits her kids don't go to school if severe weather is coming. And for Odom, the storms are personal.

"My brother-in-law was in the tornados in Tuscaloosa and that really hit home with me. So really ever since then I've been a lot more aware of the weather," says Odom.

Local superintendents say the process to decide whether or not to close school is lengthy.

"It takes a lot of thought. During the day is tricky, because you need to think about the fact if you want the buses on the road when a storm is coming which you don't," says Montgomery Public School Superintendent, Barbara Thompson.

"It starts many, many hours before we make the final call. 5am phone calls, even earlier...just back and forth," says Elmore County Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Langham.

But these superintendents don't do it alone. In fact, they bounce ideas off each other.

"I have a relationship with Autauga and Elmore. If they're closing, they usually try to let me know," adds Thompson.

"Always erring on the side of caution," adds Langham.

If a new school is built in Alabama, it is required to have a storm shelter big enough for all the school's students.

There are currently five schools in Montgomery that have the shelters.

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