Schoolcraft School Board Debates Secure Building Issues

By Sue Moore

A debate over this topic was the cornerstone of the Schoolcraft Board of Education’s June meeting. Bids had been received of approximately $175,000 to make the entrances to all four buildings secure for the next school year and included a large remodeling job at the elementary building.

Three options were presented by Superintendent Rusty Stitt and the board committee that studied the issue. Option A was full steam ahead with high school and early elementary being fitted with a buzz-in system, cameras, security with lockdown of all doors except coming into the main office of each building.

Option B was to do the above for the high school and middle school and hold off on what will be the elementary school come this fall. Option C was a hybrid plan using locks and cameras and a buzzer system but not rebuilding the entrances. The largest expenditure was for a complete remodeling of the entrance of the upper elementary building of over $75,000 in construction costs. Passage of the proposal seemed well on its way when board member Mike Rochholz started asking questions.

What about people having to stand outside waiting if there is no one in the office to buzz them in? Do we want to have a prison system in all of our buildings? At what cost do we incur to make a building safe when most anybody who is determined and with a gun can smash windows and get in, no matter what kind of secure system we can dream up? Should we be spending this kind of money on security when it could better be used for educating students? All of these were Rochholz’s fears and he brought them forcefully home to the board discussion.

At the same time, Amie McCaw, elementary school principal said she had received questions from parents about security and their feeling of vulnerability since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.

“Safety is paramount,” Rochholz stated. “But we also have to be responsible to the taxpayers on such an emotional issue. But I believe this is a societal issue. Are we being reactionary? We should try to deal with just the facts especially when more information is needed to come to a conclusion as to the right course of action,” he said.

Rochholz along with the other board members decided to table the decision until July and instructed Superintendent Stitt to investigate what other schools in the county were doing with security. What’s working or not? Look at other options, Stitt was instructed.

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