The Platte Canyon School District has made good on its promise to make every effort necessary and to dedicate as many resources as are required to ensure the safety and security of students and staff on each of their campuses.
Consequently, top-of-the -line technology, on-campus school resource officers, intensive preparations with first responders, and extra incident-management training for staff have all been focal points for Superintendent Mike Schmidt in recent months.
The implementation of improved security measures has required time, effort and monetary sacrifices on the part of the district. More importantly, all of these measures required the cooperation of outside entities, as well as a considerable amount of creative thinking by the board of education, administrators and staff.
Perhaps the most formidable hurdle cleared by the district was procuring the funding to add full-time School Resource Officers on each of its campuses. Both Schmidt and Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw have stressed the need for armed security at the high school, Fitzsimmons Middle School and Deer Creek Elementary School, and both were pleased to report that a deal was recently struck to have them in place Aug. 13, the first day all students report for the 2019-20 academic school year.
“Sheriff McGraw, Undersheriff Steve Spodyak, Mark Hirschfeld, dean of students, and I met today to firm up details about placing SROs at both Deer Creek Elementary School and the Fitzsimmons Middle School/Platte Canyon High School and District Office campus,” Schmidt said.
“I am happy to report that starting with the first day of school, we will have full-time SROs at both locations. This would not be possible without the cooperation and support of the Park County Commissioners, the Park County Sheriff’s Office, and the Platte Canyon SD1 Board of Education.”
McGraw, who cited SROs as one of his primary objectives when he took office Jan. 7, was also relieved to have the added security in place.
“This was all about funding,” McGraw said. “We are also adding one more SRO at South Park High School. “I would also like to add one more SRO to supervise and roam between schools, and hopefully we can find the funding for that through a one-half percent sales tax initiative that will be on the ballot in November. That would also allow us to add a canine officer, as well as additional support for search and rescue operations.”
“We would like SROs to work in sort of a dual capacity, and in the summers they will be working the roads. We obviously want to beef up security at the schools with the addition of SROs, but we also want them to get to know the students and to be there for mentoring purposes when -ever necessary.”
McGraw stressed that every one of his deputies have toured campuses throughout the county, and that the effort to familiarize Park County Sheriff’s personnel with the nuances of each campus would continue to be a top priority.
“I think there might have been a misconception that since Platte Canyon High School had been victimized before, then it probably wouldn’t happen here again,” McGraw said. “But we are by no means immune, and we will remain diligent and we will stay prepared to protect our campuses.”
Campus tours within the PCSD have also been a common theme for fire department and ambulance service personnel in recent months, according to Schmidt.
Schmidt talked extensively about the addition of new technology that will increase safety at each of the PCSD campuses at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board of education held Aug. 12.
Keyless entry locks have been added to exterior doors, and employees are now required to use employee badges to gain entry at both PCSD campuses.
Administrators have updated communication devices and can actually lock and unlock doors remotely if necessary – also at both campuses. Administrators have also been required to take two additional classes pertaining to incident management and overall school safety procedures.
Cameras and camera coverage have been improved at both campuses, and greater interior and exterior visibility will improve security district-wide.
Finally, additional background security checks will be required for anyone wishing to serve on the board of education.
“We just want to add every layer of security we can add,” Schmidt said.