LETTER: Public safety concerns are key to new school facility plan

"I look at this project through a different lens than a lot of people because of my many years in public safety," the letter writer says.

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To the Editor:

Mitchell has an opportunity to build the new high school project the right way: with athletic facilities included.

I look at this project through a different lens than a lot of people because of my many years in public safety. Building a new high school but leaving the gym across the street in the old building causes at least two key safety concerns.

We are back to the same issue we tried to address about 10 years ago — a split campus. Having facilities on both sides of the street means that students will still be required to move across Capital Street throughout the day for certain classes, and sport-related events, disrupting traffic and creating the opportunity for accidents and student harm, in a distraction-rich environment. If the entire facility is connected, I realize that one of the parking lots will remain on the east side of Capital Street but at least the main campus will all be connected as one building, and this will minimize students crossing the street throughout the school day.

About 10 years ago when Senior High began using the old Mitchell Tech buildings, we considered closing Capital Street during the school day or permanently. After discussion, no action was taken to close Capital Street, due to the fact it is a main thoroughfare for that section of town and it is a primary route for emergency vehicles, since Langdon, Davison and Burr streets do not go through. The long-term solution was to build one new facility, large enough so that students do not have to cross the city street throughout the day.


In the case of an active shooting event or other potentially dangerous situation, having two separate facilities can cause a delay which could cost lives. During an active shooter event officers are trained to respond to the school and advance to the sounds of gunfire or other threats.

It’s entirely possible that police officers could be responding to one building when the threat is across the street, in the other building. This could cause a delayed response to one of the buildings which could have devastating results.

It is our collective responsibility to prioritize the safety and well-being of our students.

Lyndon Overweg

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