Downvalley school district looks at increasing security
October 11, 2006
Recent school shootings have the country wondering how to keep the children safe.With two of the recent shootings coming not from students but from adults, school administrators have a whole new set of issues.The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 school board members discussed implementing school security in order to keep students in the valley out of harm’s way, but the issue remains one of intense debate.”It’s important to find a balance between making the school safe, and making the students feel safe,” said Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Judy Haptonstall. “We could build schools of concrete with bars on the windows, but is that where students will want to learn?”Haptonstall has discussed possible solutions to school violence with superintendents from around the Western Slope. She has also talked to each principal in the district and instructed them to talk with faculty and staff members to see what ideas they come up with to be presented to the board at a later date.”There are already a lot of procedures in place in case something happens,” Haptonstall said. “But there are other issues to address.”New safety procedures currently in discussion are identification badges for school faculty and staff, and limited entry during school hours with a mandatory sign-in and sign-out policy for anyone who wants to enter the building. These, and other procedures, could be in place in about a month, Haptonstall said.Schools are open for parents during the day, but anyone could enter any of the buildings from multiple entrances.”We need to rethink our current situation,” Haptonstall said.A major point at the board meeting on Wednesday night was the number of transients in the Roaring Fork Valley and the similarity to the incident in Bailey, where an armed man entered the school and killed a young girl.Limiting access to parents will not come without opposition.”It evolves to a point where we could end up like schools in Chicago or other urban areas,” said school board member Brad Zeigel. “We [Roaring Fork Valley residents] are a culture of trust, and it’s hard to function in our culture when you take that trust away.”Somewhere in the middle the two sides will have to find a way to increase security for the students.”It’s a part of today’s age,” said school board member Bob Johnson. “There are a lot of people coming in and out of the schools on a daily basis. If we put some of these obstacles in place it just may deter someone from committing one of these acts.”But how the district will have to address the issue in a delicate and literal manner. According to school board member Bruce Wampler, the policies have to be something that actually work.”We want to stay based in reality,” Wampler said. “And don’t want to implement illusional security. It has to be real. We don’t want to do something just to make people feel safe.”Wampler made the point that it’s difficult to stop someone wants to commit a violent act.”If they want to get in, they will find a way to get in,” Wampler said.