After hours open and closed campuses reviewed for trustees

September 20, 2000
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesSafe campuses was on the agenda of the Santa Paula Elementary School District’s Board of Trustees, but it wasn’t what happens when school is in session that merited discussion but off hour visitors.During the September 12 meeting various principals gave input on how their campuses are dealing with intruders since the move on the part of many schools to make sure gates are shut after school closes.Isbell Middle School Principal Sheryl Misenhimer said she wants the campus to remain closed and told of finding needles, human waste, beer bottles and other disturbing evidence of intruders at the school. “It was bad news plus,” when the campus was open, she noted. “. . .we had some wonderful people use the campus but others abused it royally.” Additional trash cans and portable toilets had been utilized in the past when the campus was open, but diapers were still left on the ground and portable toilets used only for tipping over. “It’s a health issue at my site,” Misenhimer said.Isbell is used off-hours for specific community events and such users have proven responsible, she added.Unauthorized campus users have not been deterred and continue to “cut through and remove fences” to gain access, Misenhimer noted. “We’ve replaced fences and fixed them but we find new holes.”There is fixed and roving security of area campuses.
The biggest problem at McKevett School is skate boarders who use the front of the historical site, said Principal Patti Fulbright. Signage banning such activity when pointed out to skater boarders at times brings on “cussing and swearing,” she noted.Fulbright suggested that the city should provide a skateboard park as an alternative and noted that the layout of the school hides certain areas from street view.Barbara Webster School Principal David Luna said the situation on his campus has improved greatly, although fence climbers have been known to access the campus on weekends.An open campus has proven mostly successful at Grace Thille School, although a recent graffiti incident marred that record, noted Principal James Medina. “I believe most neighbors appreciate and respect the campus,” and keep an eye on after hour users.Other principals offered their input on the issue as well as Trustee Steven Shuel, who said keeping some campuses open is a “real advantage to the community. . .campuses are owned by the public and it would be a good thing for the district to keep them open.”Board President Ben Saiz agreed and said the district should “foster an agreement with the city. . .the bottom line is money,” for programs as well as maintenance.

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