Right now Miller Elementary school doesn't look like much. The future Gym has been framed out of cinder block and the foundation has been laid down, but it's what's happening on top of the foundation that is special.
"All the outside walls and the two-story structure, they're 8-inch thick concrete reinforced with metal. The outside walls on the first story are cinder block with concrete poured in between the block which is very much reinforced with rebar in between so the outside walls are about as sturdy as you can build," LISD Superintendent Berhl Robertson, Jr., Ed. D said.
With the addition of brick and sheet rock, the walls will be nearly 16 inches thick, making it nearly impossible for projectiles to break through and harm students during a storm.
"There is no price on the safety of students," Robertson said. "People think our number one job in this business is education, it's not. It's our students' safety that comes first. You can't educate children unless they're safe, so we always take safety into consideration."
This is the second school where this thick concrete style of construction has been used. The first was Irving Elementary. In addition to the outer walls there will be an additional shelter for students inside the school in the event of severe weather.
"We also have areas inside the school where students can go to a safe place where there are no windows. That's the safest place you can be," he said. "These buildings are built to a higher standard than most residential construction, so one of the safest places students and teachers can be during a storm is inside a reinforced commercial building like our schools."
Robertson believes education is a vital part of keeping children safe.
"Awareness is really 80 percent of the issue," he said. "If you're aware of what to do...in dangerous situations, in this case tornadoes, then you know where to go and what to do and get in the safest spot."
He admits that there are very few buildings worldwide that could survive an F-5 tornado but he says this construction is the safest possible.
"If you can have an F-5 tornado come through, there are very few structures that are going to withstand an F-5 tornado like Oklahoma. That's our worst nightmare but I think these buildings are built to a code that will withstand major tornadoes."
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