School security issues discussed by FCSD#25 trustees; Two elementary schools due for upgrades

A remodeling of the front entrance of Rendezvous School is planned to enhance security features of the building. (Ernie Over photo)

A remodeling of the front entrance of Rendezvous School is planned to enhance security features of the building. (Ernie Over photo)

By Ernie Over, managing editor,

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Two Riverton elementary school buildings are scheduled to have their respective vestibule areas and entrances redesigned to make the buildings even more secure, Fremont County School District #25 Superintendent Terry Snyder said Tuesday. “We had already planned to do this before the Connecticut shootings as those buildings are not designed as well as they could be,” he told district trustees. The schools are Jackson and Rendezvous.

The issue of school security was one of the most discussed issues at this past Tuesday’s regular school trustees meeting. Snyder reported on a Governor’s Task Force for School Safety meeting that was held in Riverton last week that he sat in on. “The group was designed to talk about priorities and needs for school safety. I believe you’ll see some productive results coming  from the Task Force,” he said. Snyder said representatives at the meeting included police, Wyoming’s Department of Homeland Security, superintendents, the Wyoming Department of Education, and Wyoming School Facilities Department representatives. “I’ll be attending additional meetings with that group.”

Snyder also disclosed at Tuesday’s meeting that he had taken a concealed carry course that had been offered by Trustees Chairman Mark Stone, whose background is in law enforcement. “It was very enlightening for me, and it informed my decisions about safety,” Snyder said.

Stone said school safety training for an active shooter incident was recently conducted by the District’s School Resource Officers from the Riverton Police Department.

Rendezvous Elementary has a second entrance to the building's lunch room and gymnasium. (Ernie Over photo)

Rendezvous Elementary has a second entrance to the building’s lunch room and gymnasium. (Ernie Over photo)

“Law enforcement has a different philosophy today than when the Columbine shooting occurred in Colorado,” Stone said. “Then the first responders secured the perimeter and waited for the SWAT Team to arrive. Now, first responders enter the building as soon as they arrive to confront the shooter.”

Stone said the new training, put into place after Columbine, also encourages teachers and students, that if they are able, to run and hide and if forced into a corner to fight back. He said a two day training would be held in Riverton in March, and he said school administrators and board members are urged to attend. “It’s not a hands on training, but a good two day classroom training on different responses to an active shooter. We want to provide the safest schools we can for students and staff,” Stone said. “We need to make sure we are ahead of the curve on this.”

Although money for upgrading school security is not in the current school funding model, Snyder said there was some movement in the legislature to change that, “but it’s late in the session and a bill hasn’t been introduced yet. It’s getting late for this year.”

School trustee Carl Manning said District 25 had been using general fund monies for past safety improvements.