Highway 94, which runs a ruler-straight path between Colorado Springs to the west and Kansas to the east, is about the only thing that breaks up the vista of lush green alfalfa fields and cattle ranches here in eastern Colorado. The town of Rush is one of several unincorporated towns that dot the highway, and is the rural home to a population of less than 750 people.
Located 40 miles east of Colorado Springs – the state’s second most populous city, nestled at the base of the iconic Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains – Rush is also home to the only school building in the Miami-Yoder School District, which for years struggled with many issues relating to its remote location and the poor conditions of its facilities. The district, which serves a 500-square-mile area of three counties in this rural part of Colorado, was spending a significant percentage of its budget on busing students elsewhere to provide them with services not available at the school because of its challenging facilities, location and budgetary constraints.
The Miami – Yoder School, serving the needs of students in pre-kindergarten through high school, was in need of a new facility to remedy some significant safety and security issues. Most notably, the district needed a building with fewer access ible entrance and exit points than its current arrangement: a mixture of a nearly 100 – year – old main building and series of aging portable classrooms, some of which dated back to the 1970s, replete with leaking roofs and sagging floors. Not only were the portable classrooms cramped and in disrepair, but students were frequently required to leave the buildings and walk around the campus, which is bordered on one side by a huge cattle ranch, to reach their next class.
During one instance, the school was put into lockdown due to a shooting threat from a high school senior who was not being allowed to graduate. As a result of the multiple portable classrooms and fragmented nature of the school campus, it took law enforcement personnel more than two hours to clear the buildings and grounds. Also, due to the school’s remote location, it took the responding SWAT team nearly 45 minutes to arrive at the school from nearby El Paso County.
“That was a big concern out here because of our location,” said Rick Walter, Superintendent of Miami – Yoder School District. “In the event of an incident, it’s very difficult for law enforcement to respond and we needed to have our own processes in place to ensure the safety of students until their arrival.”
The construction of a new facility for Miami – Yoder would ensure that administrative staff could take advantage of technology that would allow school officials to control entry to the building and have access to surveillance video footage of incidents as they unfold. Administrators also wanted the security system to help manage the overall school population, controlling student and staff access to certain areas, using the system as a deterrent to ward off potential incidents like vandalism or minor assaults and as an investigative or evidentiary aid should any incidents occur on school grounds.