Nevada Union High School has decided to enact a closed campus policy for its students, to begin in the 2014-15 school year, according to NU Assistant Principal Dan Frisella.
“We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think it would be good for the school and the students at the school,” Frisella said Monday. “All of our decisions were made with the students’ best interests in mind.”
Frisella, who will replace Mike Blake as NU’s principal on July 1, said that the decision to have a closed campus was finalized three weeks ago. School faculty were notified last Friday that the decision was confirmed, and Frisella says the policy will be officially announced to the public at the Nevada Joint Union High School District board meeting on Wednesday. Frisella also said that a possible change in the school’s bell schedule may be in the works as early as the 2015-16 school year.
The potential for a closed campus at NU has been on the table since winter of last year, and administrators have since been in discussions with the school leadership team and faculty. Administrators and faculty conducted surveys for community input in regards to the closed campus policy and held meetings with the school’s parents group to get their take on the issue.
Frisella said that they also had conversations with NU’s student congress and student council.
“They’re not super thrilled about it, as you can imagine,” Frisella said. “Overall they understand why, and they feel like it’s a few people that are kind of ruining things for them in regards to behavior issues that we’ve had at lunch. But really, their input has been great.”
Hailey Barbe will be a senior at NU in the fall and says that she thinks the closed campus policy is “going to be a train wreck.
“Kids that want to go off campus are going to find a way off of campus,” Barbe said. “I know that I like going off campus because it enables … many different lunch options. I know many people that have to go home to take medicine at lunch and have other things to do. It’s bittersweet in my mind, but I believe it’s going to go out with a bang.”
According to Frisella, though, community members have reported misconduct from NU students who go off campus during lunch.
“We’ve had a few theft issues at places like BriarPatch, but the substance abuse has been the primary issue with students, to be frank ... ,” Frisella said.
Natasha Thornton, a former NU student, said she doesn’t think the school is equipped to serve all of its students during lunch time but said there are positive aspects of having a closed campus.
“There’s going to be less traffic and less dangers,” Thornton said. “Because the kids do zip around the campus and around town. I’ve almost been hit by students from Nevada Union, so it’s kind of hard because it’s going to do some good and bad.”
According to Frisella, the school is in the process of making some adjustments by offering more activities during lunch, a better food menu that includes a “Farm to School” program that will attempt to serve more fresh vegetables on campus, a new concessions area at Ali Gym and food trucks that will come to campus to give students more choices.
“We have the potential for partnership with local businesses. It’s difficult for them because of the food regulations, but we’re open to that and we’re going to reach out to them,” Frisella said. “We’ve also been granted a new salad bar that’s a hot-cold salad bar, where we could do a baked potato bar, or a soup bar, or something with greens and salads.”
NU parent Ranee Lawson, though, said that having sufficient amounts of food on a closed campus is just one thing the school needs to worry about.
“It’s also going to bring more of the riff-raff that should be off campus, and it’s going to bring all of that onto campus, and there are going to be more fights,” Lawson said. “Six of my very good friends are teachers there, and they say they can’t referee them because they need a break at lunch time, too. So who’s going to referee those kids on a closed campus?”
Lawson, 45, also added, “We had my son’s truck broken into three times because of kids in parking lots. There’s going to be a lot of vandalism now because the kids won’t have anything to do.”
But Frisella says the school has a plan in place to accommodate the increase in student population during lunch. “We will increase security and eyes on campus,” he said. “Students will be subject to progressive discipline for defiance, and those details are in development this summer.
“We’ll see what happens,” Frisella added. “I mean, they’ll certainly not be happy at first, but if we can provide good food options and activities at lunch to get them engaged in the school, there might be some growing pains with it, but I’m sure they’ll settle into it.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.