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School shelter bill solid

2/25/2014

By KAITLYN KLEIN

By KAITLYN KLEIN

KU Statehouse Wire Service

TOPEKA -- Kansans are familiar with severe weather. With that in mind, they build homes or shelters for protection. However, some House legislators said Kansas schools might be vulnerable, failing to protect students during extreme weather.

The House Education Budget Committee's House Bill 2623 would require storm shelters to be built as a part of certain projects. The bill reads Kansas school districts would need to "provide life-saving protection to all Kansas children in the event of extreme wind."

The construction projects would include any new construction or any remodel or expansion project that costs 50 percent or more of the insured value of the existing building.

Speaking in favor of the bill Monday, architect Stan Peterson of the American Institute of Architects said they would assist the Kansas Adjutant General's Department in developing guidelines and requirements for the measure.

The bill requires school districts to work with the adjutant office on projects to build storm shelters. There were no opponents to the bill, but some raised concerns.

Angee Morgan, deputy director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, spoke in favor of the bill. But according to her written testimony, she suggested "minor language changes to ensure the bill reflects the intended purpose/intent."

One language change suggested "student attendance center" building project in order to avoid applying the law to projects schools undertake that don't house students for most of the day, such as bus depots.

After several questions about what projects would be included under the bill, Chairman Rep. Ward Cassidy, R-St. Francis, moved to adjourn the meeting until today.

"It seems like a bill that everyone supports," Cassidy said. "It's just getting the technical language figured out."

The language of the bill and cost were two concerns that will be addressed at today's meeting.