Sulphur Springs now secures school campuses after hours

Pinetree Community School, Canyon country. Dan Watson/The Signal

Residents who used to walk the Sulphur Springs Union School District (SSUSD) grounds in the evening will now find that the gates and entryways into the district’s nine campuses are closed.

Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi said the district now closes all nine sites as part of its efforts to improve its facilities under its Facilities Assessment and Implementation Plan.

“We have a Facilities Master Plan we’re working on and part of that is to ensure our schools are clean and secure for our students and staff,” Kawaguchi said.

These safety modernizations include upgrading the fencing at all nine schools and improving school entrances and access points.

The change was a surprise for some Canyon Country residents would travel to schools like Pinetree Community School in the late-afternoon and evening to walk their dogs and watch their children play on the school’s playground.

At the start of the school year the school added a padlock to its side entrance and added a foot of fencing in space that was previously open.

“Part of why we buy our homes near schools is because there’s green grass and places for children to play,” one resident said of Pinetree’s closures during the weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays.  “Can there be a compromise of some sort?”

However, Kawaguchi said the school gates are closed because the district wants to make the campuses safe for its students, teachers and staff.

The district’s draft Facilities Assessment and Implementation Plan said additional security improvements include improving paved surfaces, upgrading school access points and implementing other measures deemed necessary following construction work on each campus.

“Though specific measures may not be noted at this time, the safety and security of District schools will remain an ongoing priority outcome of the proposed improvements in this section,” the draft plan read.

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