Increasing safety and security at each high school
Increasing safety and security at each high school
Posted on 06/07/2019

Students on a 40 acre campus do a lot of walking from class to class at Rogers High School. Built in 1968, the school is made up of several buildings and connected with pathways, similar to a college campus. At Puyallup High School, students cross city streets and navigate a sprawling campus with over 67 exterior doors as points of entry. The Emerald Ridge High School campus is the newest, built in 2000, but the ERHS and Walker High School campuses include several portable classrooms.

Concerns for safety and security at Puyallup schools have led to new entry ways and video intercom buzz-in systems at elementary schools and junior highs. Thanks to voter approval of a 2015 Elementary School Construction Bond there will be less overcrowding and more secure entries in most elementary schools beginning this fall. The PSD School Board is now taking a look at high school campuses.

At the school board meeting on June 3, Chief Operations Officer Mario Casello presented a recommendation from the 2018-19 Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) which was commissioned by the board in March 2018. “Members of the committee have worked tirelessly for the past 12 months,” noted Casello, “meeting twice a month in most cases and vetting options for the secondary needs for a future bond package.”

With the growing needs of our district and the impacts it will have on our secondary schools, specifically the three comprehensive high schools and one alternative high school, the district is looking at the safety and security measures, instructional spaces, program needs and overall educational needs at the high schools. 

Casello asked members of the BAC to stand and thanked them for their work. He provided directors with an overview of each meeting held and then explained the criteria used to decide which projects to recommend for a future bond package. These included the following:

1. Safety and Security

2. Building Condition

3. Educational Programs

4. Regional Plan

5. Projected Growth

6. State Match Availability

Noting the increased concern for safety and security on high school campuses, Casello provided emphasis on the committee’s interest in this topic. The goal is to provide instruction for high school students in one building where there are fewer entry points and great control of entry ways. For example, there are 67 exterior doors at PHS, 64 exterior doors at RHS, and several portables at WHS and ERHS.

In addition, Casello reported a desire to reduce hiding spots throughout the campuses, add security cameras, bring core facilities closer in proximity to the main building, install video intercom buzz-in systems for building entry, upgrade vestibules to ensure control of visitors on campus, upgrade intercom and visual notification alerts.

Casello spent considerable time explaining the details of each high school campus using site by site maps and diagrams. To see the slides used in this presentation visit the PSD website.

“We are showing population growth in Puyallup through about 2026,” noted Director Keaton. We are behind capacity in our current high schools and have the option of building a new high school, but in our long term our population projections start going down so it would save a lot of money for the community to make these improvements. When combined with the safety and security it makes more sense to upgrade and modernize our current high schools.”

“The last thing we want to be as a community is over built. It takes a lot of money to operate schools.” Speaking of the cost of an additional high school, Superintendent Yeomans reminded directors, “It’s a drain on the local tax payers to keep those kinds of facilities running. We would be exactly right sized if we followed the recommendations the Bond Advisory Committee has made.”

(Click on each image to view full size)

Rogers High School     Puyallup High School  
Rogers High School                                                                           Puyallup High School


Walker High School     Emerald Ridge High School
Walker High School                                                                           Emerald Ridge High School



Dr. Brian Fox
foxbd@puyallup.k12.wa.us