santa cruz high photoSanta Cruz City School Board of Trustees Continued Actions to Improve Safety at Santa Cruz High School

On Wednesday February 26th the Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS) Board of Trustees took additional actions to improve safety at Santa Cruz High.

By a vote of 7-0 the Board approved the recommendation from the Santa Cruz High Safety Task Force to install five gates that will enclose the inner quad at Santa Cruz High during nights and weekends. The approved plan strikes a good balance between safety and design and will be paid for by SCCS district funds.

The Santa Cruz High Safety Task Force was formed last fall by trustees Hawthorne and Tracy-Proulx and Superintendent Gary Bloom in response to a reported increase in vandalism, vagrancy and homeless encampments at the district’s most urban campus. The majority of the incidents have taken place during the hours when campus is closed and mirror similar issues being addressed by the City of Santa Cruz. An initial effort was made to insure a collaborative partnership with the City of Santa Cruz with both Councilmembers Mathews and Terrazas as well as Officer Duarte of the Santa Cruz Police Department joining staff, parents, students and trustees in rolling up shirt sleeves and working together to find solutions.

In her remarks to the board Wednesday in support of approving the security gates, Council member Mathews stated that the Santa Cruz High Task force was one of the most dedicated and effective committees with which she has worked, and that she is pleased as well as heartened by the quick progress and continued efforts of the participants.

In addition to the five security gates the task force has previously recommended the district took action to hire a security firm to patrol the campus, install new and updated lighting, and clear brush from the hillsides (by using goats).  Other safety measures include locking the lower gates to prevent access of non-students during the school day and increasing day time patrol routes by staff.  Additional information, including drawings of gate placement, may be seen on pages 292-294 of the attached SCCS Board agenda book.

Next steps for the Santa Cruz High Safety Task Force will be a door to door outreach campaign in the Santa Cruz High neighborhoods led by Principal Karen Edmonds, to apprise neighbors of recent efforts and to invite everyone to join in making the campus and the surrounding neighborhoods safer for all.

Task Force members agree that Santa Cruz High neither created these urban problems nor can the school solve them by itself. But working collaboratively with neighbors and the City, the Task Force can create a model that can be replicated at all other SCCS sites.