Santa Barbara schools have been working with police to revamp security plans for campuses and have already made some improvements such as installing new lock and key systems that enable classroom doors to lock from the inside, which they didn’t before.
After last year’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., police and Sheriff’s Department deputies conducted walk-throughs of every school in the district to evaluate the needs, according to pupil services director Marlin Sumpter.
As a result, facilities staff have sped up the new lock and key system installation and installed more signage for visitors, who have to check in with offices before entering any campus. All faculty and staff members at the schools have laminated name tags they wear now, as well, so it’s easier to identify who is supposed to be there, Sumpter said.
There also has been discussion of “run, hide or fight” protocol for emergency response and lockdown situations, but the district’s procedures are still to shelter in place, he said. The campuses all regularly practice both evacuation and lockdown scenarios.
With California’s weather and school architecture, campuses are rarely completely fenced off and have all doors opening to the outside, school board member Kate Parker noted.
Mayor Helene Schneider asked what school officials would want in order to beef up security if money was no object, to which Sumpter said a video surveillance system would help monitor parking lots, entrances and exits, and hallways. He said cameras would be helpful both during the day and at night, particularly for vandals.
Superintendent Dave Cash said the district will have a pilot video surveillance system up at Santa Barbara High School.
For safety near schools, the city is finalizing an Eastside Neighborhood Transportation Management Plan to present to advisory groups and eventually the City Council, according to transportation manager Browning Allen.
He said that during workshops and surveys sent home with elementary school students, the city found out that Eastside residents are most concerned with vehicles speeding or not yielding to pedestrians; a lack of lighting, sidewalk and access ramps; missing bike lanes; and bicyclists not abiding by rules of the road.
The city is also working on projects funded by federal grants and local Measure A money for Safe Routes to School in those neighborhoods, including plans to realign the intersection at Salinas and Cacique streets to make it easier for students to cross and drivers to see pedestrians. They’ll also be proposing the installation of flashing beacons at the intersections of Salinas and Clifton and Salinas and Cacique, the same type of lights that were installed on Milpas Street, Allen said.
Assistant City Administrator Paul Casey briefed the district on the impact of dissolving the city’s Redevelopment Agency. The city expects to be in “safe harbor status” soon, which essentially means getting a gold star from the state for following the rules during this confusing dissolution process, he said. Once the city gets that designation, it can spend the $12 million to $14 million in unspent bond proceeds on unfinished capital improvement projects.
There’s a big impact on school funding, too, said Meg Jette, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services.
Without the RDA, the school districts receive a bigger portion of local property taxes, so the state isn’t obligated to pay as much money to meet its funding entitlement. While it doesn’t give any additional money to the school district’s budget (just changes where it comes from), property taxes can’t be deferred by the state and will be a much more stable funding source for cash-flow purposes, Jette said.
“The state defers money from July to February, across years — it’s a mess,” she said.
At the next joint meeting, council members and board members asked to talk about shared use of facilities, integrating library services and the future of expelled students after El Puente Community School is closed in June.
As to El Puente, Cash reiterated that “those are our kids, and we will provide whatever they need to be successful.”