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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
5:56 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Editorial: School safety comes with a cost

Tom Foley (left), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s assistant professor of global security and intelligence, and Richard Rodriguez, study the doors at Bright Futures Pre-school in Prescott Valley for a study their conducting on school safety. (Max Efrein/Courier)

Tom Foley (left), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s assistant professor of global security and intelligence, and Richard Rodriguez, study the doors at Bright Futures Pre-school in Prescott Valley for a study their conducting on school safety. (Max Efrein/Courier)

Prescott and Humboldt school district officials are not waiting for lightning to strike here, in the wake of deadly shootings on school campuses across the country.

The Daily Courier reported earlier this month about Prescott Unified School District and the Prescott Police partnering on safety measures. For instance, the police are proposing the addition of a school liaison officer to focus on the growing concerns of school safety.

Prescott Police Chief Debora Black told the City Council that the officer would also be responsible for working with the 17 public, charter, and private schools in the community. Along with suggesting possible safety measures on the school grounds, the officer also would deal with reports of students doing, saying or writing things that raise red flags about possible school violence.

In today’s Courier you will find a story about Humboldt Unified School District working with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and an architect. HUSD officials are looking at possibly restructuring the entrances to each of their schools’ primary buildings, for example, which will depend on funding.

“You’re looking at about $2.5 million just to restructure our front offices,” Superintendent Dan Streeter said. “When you start looking at items beyond that – security cameras, changes to exterior perimeters – that dollar figure is going to go up.”

Reader poll

Are you willing to put your money behind efforts to keep students safe?

  • This is a responsibility of the state; the Governor should call a special session of the Legislature 25%
  • Public schools in Arizona are underfunded, so I could help with some property taxes or donations 11%
  • The school shootings happen infrequently; the students are safe enough 17%
  • Local school officials should look for cheaper solutions, such as with police or veterans groups 33%
  • Schools should get the public and business community behind school safety measures to pay for needed fixes - sky is the limit for our children 15%

404 total votes.

Also, HUSD has volunteered to be the first to begin working with ERAU’s College of Security and Intelligence on a study that could change the way schools throughout the country approach school safety. The grant-funded study application, titled “Identifying Cost-Effective Security Barrier Technologies for K-12 Schools: An Interdisciplinary Evaluation,” was authored by ERAU Assistant Professor of Global Security and Intelligence Tom Foley.

Over the next 18 months, Foley and his team will test technologies designed to keep a potential intruder from entering a school and determine how those technologies can be reasonably applied in a school setting on a school district’s budget.

It all sounds very special – community coming together to keep children safe.

It also will come with a cost. The measures in Prescott will be paid for by both the city and the school district; PUSD will cover three-fourths of the cost of a school resource officer, and the city would pay the entire amount for the liaison officer.

For the HUSD security fixes – that $2.5 million price tag – the district may have to go to the voters for help, Streeter said.

“Our schools are pretty secure, but the one issue that we have is that at most of our schools, you can walk in our front doors and we don’t have total control of the traffic flow once you enter,” he said.

The Daily Courier has probed the topic of school safety before now, but now the question comes: at what price? Are you willing to put your money behind efforts to keep students safe – keeping in mind the underfunded nature of public schools in Arizona? Take the poll posted here on the topic.

This is early in the process; however, the challenge is two-fold:

  • With Prescott’s solutions coming across as more affordable and those of HUSD seeming costly, we have to wonder what other solutions exist to the safety question? and,
  • If we did not buy into the solution and a shooting happened here, who’s to blame?

Email us at editorial@prescottaz.com or submit a letter to the editor through dCourier.com.

Whether you take the poll or not, this community effort needs the community’s voice.