Perimeter Fencing Concerns and Answers

Dear Neighbors,


I appreciate the opportunity to talk with community members about our schools proposed perimeter fencing. Thank you to those who have attended our community meetings in the last two weeks.


I think it's important that we all understand the purpose of the project and what it will entail. The bottom line for our district is that we are responsible for the safety of 5200 students and more than 600 staff members every day.  While many of us enjoy the open campus feel, the reality is our staff members regularly have to approach people on campus who are not authorized to be there. There have been issues with dog bites, bike thefts, and other safety concerns that would be mitigated by a more secure perimeter. Parents and staff members shared their concerns about potential violent events that are reflected in fence recommendations in the MVWSD Master Facility Plan and the Safety Town Hall


By connecting the existing fences and adding a few gates (that automatically will unlock in the evenings and weekends), we can eliminate some of the safety concerns while still giving community members the same access to our fields and playgrounds as was allowed before.


I wanted to clear up some misconceptions about this project. Please see below for some of the concerns that we have heard recently and the answers to them. I encourage you to visit the maps linked below so that you can see where the fences will connect.


The community meetings resulted in good feedback that we will incorporate into the next phase. We will come back to you with new drawings and another meeting before construction starts. Thank you for continuing to keep the dialogue open. 


Respectfully,

Dr. Ayindé Rudolph
Superintendent



Concern: Community access to the school campuses will be reduced.

Answer: The District’s proposed fencing does not limit the amount of access that residents are allowed now. Currently, the public can use this area outside of school hours, and that will continue. Automatic unlocking gates are planned to ensure they are unlocked in the evenings and on weekends. There will be no reduction to the community access allowed now due to the fences.


Concern: There is no need for the fences, and they won’t make the campuses more secure.

Answer: Parents, students and staff members have expressed worry about being able to secure our campuses. While many of us enjoy the open campus feel, the reality is our staff members regularly have to approach people on campus who are not authorized to be there. There have been issues with dog bites, bike thefts, and other safety concerns that would be mitigated by a more secure perimeter.


Concern: No one wants a fence.

Answer: Parents, students and staff members have expressed worry about being able to secure our campuses. Staff members regularly have to approach people on campus who are not authorized to be there. Safety of our students and staff members is our number one priority, and a secure perimeter is key to this effort. This has been an ongoing discussion for several years. 


How can the schools fence city parks?

The fields at the schools belong to MVWSD. MVWSD partners with the City to provide access to the City for community recreational leagues and activities on District-owned land, in return for help from the City in maintaining the grass. The district communicated with the City about potential perimeter controls as soon as it was determined what was needed. Conceptual drawings were then set for feedback and adjustments were made based on access needs.


Concern: That’s a lot of expense for a large amount of fencing needed to enclose a whole school campus.

Answer: Please view these graphics that clearly show the fence position at our sites.  For the majority of our campuses we are simply adding gates and short runs of fences to connect the fencing that is already present.  The amount of new fencing is minimal. Most of our school sites already have some perimeter fences and we are simply connecting them.

(School fencing maps linked here: Huff, Bubb, Crittenden, Monta Loma, Landels, Graham, Castro/Mistral and Stevenson/Theuerkauf.)


Concern: The fences will look ugly and cause fear.

Answer: As mentioned above, some students, parents and staff members are fearful because we do not have secure campuses. The district has received feedback and will work on fence color, materials and style so they may blend in with the rest of the aesthetics of the campus.


Concern: Consider 3 ft fences instead of 6 ft.

Answer: A 3 foot fence could be easily jumped over. A higher fence is needed to ensure campus is secure. Six-foot fence height is standard and is already in place along the perimeters of most of our schools.


Concern: The community did not have a say in the fences.

Answer: The discussion about fencing has been ongoing for several years. The decision to include perimeter controls was informed by the MVWSD Master Facility Plan and the Safety Town Hall. Both of these efforts included community feedback.


The district communicated with the City about potential perimeter controls as soon as it was determined what was needed. Conceptual drawings were then set for feedback and adjustments were made based on access needs. 


In the last several weeks, the district has had six community meetings specifically about fencing, one for each campus and a combined middle school meeting. 


Based on community feedback, here are the improvements to the fencing plan that we are implementing or exploring.
Having automatic locks at all new gates that can be remotely opened.
Making sure staff can easily come and go during the school day easily. Changing the color of fencing at some locations.
Repositioning the fencing at some locations.
Consider landscaping


Concern: Fences will eliminate multi-directional approaches to school and discourage walking and biking from the neighborhoods.

Fences and gates should not interfere with the morning commute to school. For the majority of our campuses we are simply adding gates and short runs of fences.  The amount of new fencing is minimal. Gates will be open for entry at arrival times.


Concern: Fences will hinder the “run” tactic in Run, Hide, Defend in the event of a violent intruder on campus.

Answer: There will be multiple exit points from inside campus. All gates will have "panic bar” style hardware that will allow gates to swing open with just a push.







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