Student Safety and Escalating Cost Top of Mind at Chaparral Middle School Forum
Alamogordo Public School District held a community meeting to present the potential layout of the future middle school and hear public comment on the proposal.
Several community members raised questions about safety features and the cost of the project in two to three years if inflation is not considered.
The design team consisted of five members: landscape architect Kenneth Francis, designer Ben Meyer, Lake Flato architect partner Greg Papay, architect Brandi Rickel, and from Studio Southwest, architect Steven Osborn.
With the recent uptick in shootings in Otero County and one student involved shooting At Oregon Park last week a high level of sensitivity concerning student safety was felt within the community and questions asked. The design team described the upcoming building as a campus that will connect students to the outdoors with renders portraying garage doors that open from classrooms to the courtyard and other classrooms containing large windows from floor to ceiling, parents in the audience asked if there will be any fencing to prevent potential shooters from accessing the campus.
"I saw a lot of floors to ceiling, on both sides of the glass and God forbid, but where are those children sheltering in place in the case of an active shooter?" a parent in the audience asked.
Architect Papay explained,"So, literally every space in the school will have a shelter location. This school has somewhere between 25% to 30% of glazing," Papay continued, “Part of what you see is a render that just shows you the character of the campus, but every one of those spaces comes within space of said, protected zones."
Vice Superintendent Colleen Tagle said outside of the construction, the district will put other measures in place such as heightened security with personnel and cameras in blind spots in addition to the fencing that will surround the campus.
"There are a number of tools that we use for campus security, so it isn't just the fencing of the campus, but the security guards, the video surveillance, the electronic access and additional security guards," Tagle said. "It starts with how we keep the kids safe."
Community members were not just concerned about safety measures but voiced doubt about keeping the cost of building the facility down.
Cost escalation is a major concern to the public. The initial cost in 2020 was estimated at $27 Million and in the location near Griggs Field. Now the decision is to build on the original campus and the cost could escalate to $60 Million due to inflation.
Though the meeting raised intense questions for the district and school board, members of the community, most people agreed the project needs to get completed.
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