Open vs Closed campus – the quest for perfect community campus.

In this day and age, you would think the question has been resolved, but that would be a fantasy.  From city to city, district to district, school site to school site, the debate rumbles on.  Some campuses are open and some are closed with the same result.  So the theory goes.  Hopelessly and drastically, they are not the same.  In some regards, all the talk of the wall at the border does bring up some interesting questions about campus security.

Benefits of the open campus

There are benefits on both sides of the campus fence; some are better than others.  So, let’s take a look at the interests of the open campus.  This is the campus that has no fences, barriers to keep people off-campus before or after school hours.  Or if there is a fence, the gates are open so that the community can utilize the campus for their benefit.

Here are a few benefits

  • Community space available
  • Build a sense of community
  • Green space for exercise
  • Building a sense of ownership
  • Local meeting place
  • Healthy lifestyle encouragement.

So are these benefits worth the costs?  Maybe.  What is the value of these resources?  These are tough questions and I am not sure that you can put hard dollars on these benefits.  But you can put hard dollar to the costs of the open campus

Active Shooter Aside

Active shooters are a serious issue and one that open schools indeed invite, but this is far and few between.  In essence, the reality of an active shooter hitting your campus is rare.  That being said, if it does occur the costs are enormous.

Real costs of an open campus

The costs of an open campus can be measured in hard dollars.  Real dollars.  Let’s take a look at some of the open campus costs:

  • Property destruction and damage
  • Additional wear and tear of equipment and property
  • Dumped hazardous waste
  • Extra watering of campus fields
  • Additional water use
  • Other lighting costs
  • Additional trash and litter to pick up and also disposal of
  • Drug use
  • Paraphaneli left behind
  • Space for illegal behaviors and activities – drug dealing, sex, gun sales
  • Theft of computers and other assets
  • Plotting and planning of crimes

I know the list is longer than the benefits.  Sure it is because it is a reality.  I was at a campus yesterday that has an open campus and the youth bring their vehicles to the parking lot to perform automotive burnouts and doughnuts.  One such evening the youth lost control of the car and took out to poles and the water supply to the school.  This is an example of property damage and the costs of time and labor to put the school back together again is real and can be measured.

 

Some deep thoughts for an open campus

So why is it that we close libraries, post-offices, court buildings, public works facilities, community centers, parks, trails, city halls, cemeteries and other public buildings and services, but schools are to remain open for the benefit of all?  Good question.  One I still can’t wrap my head around.

Just because a building is built with public dollars or is public property does not mean that it for the benefit of a single person of the public. It doesn’t mean that free rein has been given to every person in the community.  And it isn’t a slight; it is a safe keeping of the public’s dollar.  It is being a good steward of the public’s money.

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