Editorial: Safety improvements at Park City schools are welcome sight

Classrooms in Park City on Thursday were vibrant with the sights and sounds of students learning. After a long summer, school was back in session.

For many parents of younger children, it was the first opportunity to check out two major safety measures the Park City School District implemented at elementary schools over the break.

Visitors will notice that fences to keep out unauthorized people and wildlife now surround the district’s four elementary schools. Inside, the entrance of each school was remodeled to prevent anyone from accessing the main building without being buzzed in by the front office staff.

Despite the stated aim of both improvements, not all the community were initially sold on the idea. The fences, in particular, have been a source of controversy. Some who live near the schools complained that the fences would be an eyesore and could decrease property values. Others questioned whether they would actually make the schools safer.

School officials delayed the project, working with the neighbors to modify the plans, but fortunately didn’t let the criticisms stop them from ultimately moving forward. The plan to install the fences was based on collaboration with local law enforcement and an expert hired to evaluate the safety of the district and came after the Utah Division of Homeland Security made a similar recommendation following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2013.

Taking action on the advice of the experts, regardless of how some feel about the aesthetic of the fences, was the right move.

So, too, was the decision to remodel the entrances and require visitors to present identification before they’re allowed to proceed. The project was not cheap — the remodeling, along with the fencing, came with a price tag of roughy $1.5 million — but it’s money well spent. Knowing that a person with bad intentions can no longer simply walk into the schools and go wherever they like will certainly give parents more peace of mind when they drop off their children in the morning.

The district has allocated funding to construct similar entryways at the secondary schools in the near future, and has also expressed interest in installing shatterproof glass in the main windows of all the schools. We urge the district to move forward with those projects sooner rather than later.

The simple fact is that, in today’s world, we need our schools to do everything within reason to ensure our children are safe. Residents should be grateful our school officials understand that and are committed to acting accordingly.

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