by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles regarding the proposed Marlow Public Schools bond issue that will be on the ballot on February 8, 2022.

With the ever-increasing spotlight on school safety, Marlow Public Schools administrators included what they hope will address multiple issues in the proposed bond issue before voters on February 8.

Marlow High School Principal Bryan Brantley said that both the proposed classroom addition to the main building as well as planned safe rooms would help with student and staff safety.

“Attaching what we call the main building and the science building would enable us to get all but three or four classes within one space,” Brantley said. “Right now we have about eight teachers in the main building, three in the science building, eight in the auditorium…this would minimize how many kids have to leave the building not only with weather, but it helps cut down on people coming onto campus who aren’t supposed to be there.”

Brantley said that with the existing open campus, individuals who don’t need to be on school grounds have access to students and buildings that would be limited if classrooms are added to the main building.

“They’re not there to do any harm, usually, but we don’t know that,” Brantley said. “If they’re on campus and cutting through, it would help tremendously to have those rooms consolidated and be able to limit access.”

Brantley cited recent examples of intruders that precipitated lockdown, and added that if the school needed to go into lockdown due to an intruder, the procedure would be streamlined by limiting students’ exposure to the outside.

“The question there becomes, who is out and about on campus?” Brantley said. “If I’m on the intercom…that’s fine if you’re within earshot. If you’re in freshman English class in the auditorium but you went to get a book from the library, you’re in transit between buildings and we have to find you.

“If I’ve got as many of those classes all in one building, it’s safer for everyone,” he added.

Brantley said that the addition of a safe room on the high school campus would facilitate students’ safety as well as that of the surrounding community. Currently, the MPS procedure during severe weather is to have students, faculty, and staff walk to Marlow Elementary School to shelter.

Once there, the high school students, middle school students, and elementary students shelter in classrooms, creating challenges to maintaining order with over a thousand students and faculty in one building.

“The safe rooms will save us a good five to seven minutes in response time,” Brantley said. “Right now in a brisk walk, it takes ten minutes. If we’re in a tornado warning, we have to move 400 people to the elementary school and if there’s rain or hail or any of that that often comes with a tornado, we’re putting our students and faculty at risk.

“With a safe room on campus, we could do it in a minute or two,” Brantley added. “And with all of us in there, we’d still have room for another 400 people from the surrounding neighborhood.”

Brantley said that when not in use during emergencies, the safe room buildings could be used for college fairs, meeting space, and parent seminars.

Next week’s final installment of the Notes on MHS Bond Issue series will address how the proposed bond affects athletics and the Arts.

Brothers Barista