In a move to improve security for students and staff at the sprawling Santa Fe High School campus, the school board voted 4-0 Tuesday night to reallocate more than $10 million in general obligation bond funds to build a new central administration building that will tighten access through the main entry point to the campus.
Board member Maureen Cashmon said the project will give administrators and staff at the 1,500-student high school better visibility “so we can start securing this campus and not have it be so wide open.”
The roughly 100-acre campus on a hilltop above Yucca and Siringo roads opened in 1966, well before recent school shooting incidents around the country heightened security concerns.
Board members emphasized that the $10 million is not being taken away from other specific school projects. For example, about $2.3 million of it will be taken from general roofing and parking lot paving funds. Another $1.7 million will come from a reduction in the district’s construction management team.
The district will first demolish the existing administration building, which is set back a ways from the main entry off Yucca Road and does not provide a central welcoming center for students or visitors.
Work is expected to begin soon and be completed by the summer of 2020, said Gabe Romero, the district’s head of facilities and former head of security.
The action is just the first in a series of projected steps to move programs and functions on the campus closer to the outdoor courtyard at the center of the complex. For example, the district eventually plans to move the cafeteria, now a few minutes walk away from most of the other buildings, closer to the courtyard.
The district also plans to move the many programs that take place in the school’s Activities Center — such as the Naval Junior ROTC program — in closer to the center over time, Romero said.
“The college-type open campus is not conducive to the security needs of a high school,” Romero said. “We’re trying to pull in some of the outliers.”
Santa Fe Public Schools has been working to improve security districtwide. Among security measures was installation of a visitor identification system intended to spot sex offenders, installation of RhinoWare Door Barricade devices on all classroom doors and overhauling of procedures for conducting lockdown, shelter-in-place and fire drills.
Most schools in the district have one focused entryway that is generally locked except when students are entering and exiting. Santa Fe High School is an exception.