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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local April 29, 2016

1/16/2013 10:46:00 AM
Cottonwood-Oak Creek closing campuses for student safety
Will close open fencing and add fence as needed

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD - Almost as soon as the news of the massacre in Newtown, Conn, was breaking around the world, Cottonwood-Oak Creek District Superintendent Barbara U'Ren and Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning were in contact with each other.

In a nutshell, they each had two immediate thoughts. How can we make students safer, and how can we make them feel safer?

"I don't feel that any child should ever be afraid to go to school," Fanning told the Cottonwood-Oak Creek Governing Board Tuesday night. "The schools in our community are community schools."

Before Fanning spoke, U'Ren explained that school district administrators, Chief Fanning, Fire Chief Mike Kuykendall, Verde Rural Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Doerksen, Yavapai County Sheriff Captain David Rhodes and Lieutenant Nate Auvenshire began conducting campus safety walk-throughs on the district campuses.

They lost no time in coming up with immediate recommendations to improve school safety, and the governing board lost no time in approving those first measures recommended. Four steps were approved to be taken immediately.

Number one is to close campuses to public use during school hours, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., including use of district walking tracks.

Number two is, to the extent possible, lock exterior gates creating one central entrance to the office.

Number three is to close off fencing that has openings.

Number four is to add fencing as needed.

Fanning explained that a lot of foot traffic goes across school campuses, even when kids are outside playing. He pointed out that near Cottonwood Middle School and Cottonwood Elementary School there are some transients and homeless people who come onto campus through the open areas.

Fanning said that on the elementary and middle school campuses people can completely cross both campuses without getting near an administration building. He said the campuses need to be secure.

He said that Tavasci School is better than most campuses because it is the district's newest school, but even that campus can be entered through the playground area next to open desert.

"We can stop unauthorized access to our campuses," Fanning said.

U'Ren said that upgrading district campus security to the appropriate level may well require a bond to be approved. But she asked the board to take these initial steps immediately. The board approved the request unanimously.

In addition to the four steps approved, Fanning and U'Ren said other measures will be put into place, such as having teachers lock classroom doors, and requiring all visitors to all campuses to sign in and out.

Board President Jason Finger asked David Snyder, director of business services, if the administration has a prioritized list.

Snyder said they need 20 plus gates and 400 feet of fencing to start. He said that does not address the wide area in front of the middle school.

Fanning said that the area in back of the middle and elementary schools, back by the Catholic Church, is the area that scares police the most.

Wednesday morning, Snyder told the Verde Independent that the district will probably go ahead and get bids for fencing.

"I'm going to use as much old fencing as we can," Snyder said.

"It's going to be all the campuses," Snyder said, "but it will affect CMS and CES the most."

He said about $8,000 will be needed right away for fencing.

To help with the cost of improving campus security, the administration asked the board to discontinue its public relations contract with Hardsale Communications.

U'Ren explained that the district's soft capital is almost down to zero, and the money being used for Hardsale can be used for other purposes.

Finger said that Hardsale has been an asset to the district, but the request on the campus safety issues must take precedence.

"When we contracted their services, it wasn't intended to be permanent," Finger said.

The board unanimously approved the request to discontinue the contract.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Samantha Anderson

I understand the schools want safety but in the case of ddb it is a bit of a problem the main entrance is quite a distance from the handicapp spots. so it is difficult if a handicap parent wants to volunteer. I think they need to either move the handicap spots or builf a new ramp to accomidate them.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

So true, Ms. Setterlund. The Verde Valley is truly blessed that there has never been an incident that made basic security measures seem imperative. But with the growing population and growth in everything else, these measures are long overdue. Let's just hope David Snyder can keep the inevitable bond measure to a bare minimum. The fact it took a tragedy in Connecticut to convince the COCSD Board that fixing fences is more important than hiring fund-raisers is both sickening and memorable.

Security cameras are expensive, Ms. Ganong. They require extensive maintenance, they only cover fixed areas, and they don't help much with something that's happening right in the moment. However, there are alarm systems that tie into the police. It's a thought.

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: Gail Ganong

What about security cameras that can track culprits and record for proper arrests? These are in use in almost all major school districts.
I recommend for help designing such a system and the enclosures are all made in San Diego, Ca!!

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: thanks for the edumacation... .

since you proved my point at least 2-3 times in your retort...

the video clip shows the significant decibel drop afforded by that somewhat small silencer... bravo.

your yahoo answer link again extolled the 20-to 50 decibel decrease in exit report.

and you pointed out that the dc sniper rifle was indeed silenced by being placed in a padded trunk of a car and that even without being silenced a bullet traveling at 2500 to 3000 feet per second will reach its target before the sound of the shot that only averages 1026.67 feet per second.

so looking forward to your next class... please educate us lowly citizens...please...

the best solution is for people to stop shooting each other... duh!

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: Educating those living in a media-created reality

Comment: "...silencer... people never even saw[sic] it coming…"

Silencers don't completely silence a firearm, especially one with a muzzle velocity greater than the speed of sound. The muzzle velocity of a .223 round is almost 3 times the speed of sound. 'Silenced' or not, the slug will hit long before the sound arrives.

But then, reality bites twice on this comment because the "dc sniper" rifle was NOT equipped with a silencer at all. The FBI suspected it was because the rifle was being fired from the trunk of a car, which acted to suppress the sound.

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: anyone recall the dc snipers? .

they used a 'bushmaster' .223 from the trunk of a car with a silencer... people never even saw it coming... and now that our gov. has approved silencers for hunting? nice...

seems that we may be falling into the trap of treating the symptom and not the cause...

why not spend the extra money on education educating the kids,,,

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: Jimi Changa

I am in total agreement with "Forget Education. Lock Them Up".
A chain link fence and locked gate is not going to keep a madman with guns from entering school grounds and repeating a Newtown. All is needed is a fence cutter. To adequately seal off a school would require a 12' brick wall with broken glass on top and barb wire fencing around the entire perimeter of the school grounds, armed guards on top of the building and video survellance around the whole campus.

Sounds like the superintendent, public safety officials, and school board are trying to make it look as if they are being proactive as well as trying to cover their behinds in the extreme unlikelyhood of this happening in our community.

What a chain link fence and locked gates will do is make our children and citizens more upset and fearfull than they already are.

Lets allow cool heads and common sense to prevail and not spread more hysteria and fear than has already been unleashed by the media.

And please don't make our community schools in to jails


Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Let's lock up the kids while in school instead of taking care of the problem.

Bring back mental health services, ban assault rifles, and every gun is tracked just like a car, no gun sales without a database search would be a good start.

Maybe George Orwell had it right, but just the wrong year. The United States should be renamed the United Police States!

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Lauryn Setterlund

It takes a school tragedy to implement such a simple procedure, Hmm, all visitors to sign in and out on all campuses! I asked why this was not being done at M.U.H.S in 2009. I was told by Sgt. Gareth Braxton of CWPD that it was not part of the policy. I was called in to speak to Officer Irving about a fight that happened during a football game and she did not keep any record of my time on school property, nor my time spent in the Police Officer's Office at the High School. I appreciate Mrs. U'Ren starting with simple basics like this and the fencing around school property, but we do not need to lock students in the classroom, it will not give the kids a feeling of security but further their fears.

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Here We Go Again?

More fence, more locks, more cops in schools.

Lets hope common sense is kept in place before
new actions or new laws are put in place.

The school at Newtown had high rates for security
and had that very morning had a security drill.
And all doors were locked.

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Giving up Barbs PR

Having to drop their misguided PR campaign shows us again just how screwed up the priorities of this district have become under Superintendent Barbara Uren.

Passing a new bond should be a nonstarter in this community as long as Barb is in charge. Why would anyone want to give her more money to waste?

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: O Z

What about the private and Catholic schools here in town? Or don't they count? These security measures shouldn't only be for public schools, children are children no matter what school they attend. Most kids don't have a choice as to what school they will be going to, it's the parent’s choice to have their child educated privately or publicly but either way all schools should be safe and secure.

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: Forget Education Lock em Up

What a sorry, sad state of affairs. One or two incidents of violence occur, blown up and pounded by the media, and now we have to lock up our children behind fences. Guess they might as well learn to live in a police state now, where the cops hold more power over a community and what is best for it than any one else.
I find this over kill, absurd, and leading to more anxiety, not less among our children. I don't know of anyone who wants to spend their days behind fences and locked doors.
Just because things happen other places doesn't mean we have to assume they will happen here.
Home schooling seems to be the only freedom minded option. No cops prowling around the schools. No fences where you need permission to enter or leave, or just plain can't leave.
I sure hope there are plans ready for emergency evacuation where gates need to be open, doors need to open etc. becaue people need to get out and get out fast. The natural gas lines are far more dangerous than the perceived wickedness of a crazy or god forbid a transient.

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