Vote passes 4-1; many spoke out in favor of closed campus

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

AGUA DULCE - It came down to a question of what would be best for student safety that led to the Agua Dulce School Board's decision to move to a closed campus for all students except juniors and seniors.

The move is a slightly more stringent policy, but one that a majority of board members felt was necessary to ensure the safety of younger students during lunchtime.

During the public hearing, Norma King, the mother of one eighth-grade girl, said her daughter had no business going off campus for lunch.

"I believe we ought to have a closed campus. I've seen several kids jump into the back of pickups and take off to Lalo's during lunch. It's very dangerous," King said.

Although an infrequent occurrence, King said she once noticed small bottles of alcohol along the side of the road as she dropped her kids off after lunch.

"This is really a safety issue, why put the kids in danger?" King said.

Board president Michael Carper said he was in favor of a closed campus, but he did say more information was needed before the school year begins to see how the change will impact the cafeteria and staff.

Board member Sandra Riley said what she's heard from parents is that students are taking off for lunch without permission; students are leaving and are not supposed to be.

She said she had no problem with the closed campus.

Board member Tony Aguilar also felt the decision might be premature, without more information as to how it would impact the school. He was the lone vote against the measure.

Athletic Director Don Gronbach, who was present at the meeting, spoke out strongly in favor of the measure. He suggested extending the closed campus across the high school to all grade levels.

"I think kiddos have too much freedom," Gronbach said during the meeting. "Kids will do whatever you want them to do. We need to have more pride and discipline. We need to send the message that we control it, not them."

Board Member Cathy Howard said she had no problem with a closed campus.

"I say let's protect them, the school will adjust," she said. The action item was then put to a vote, which passed 4-1.