Douglas County commissioners form school security committee

Members meet for the first time to strategize next steps

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Though they come from different backgrounds and municipalities, nine members of a committee formed by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners to oversee additional funds for school safety have one thing in common: They want to protect students in Douglas County.

"At the end of the day, we are all parents and grandparents who are vested in this community,” Clint Dorris, chairman of the Physical School Safety and Protection Funding Committee, said at the committee's first official meeting on June 14.

On May 28, three weeks after a school shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch that left one student dead and eight others injured, Douglas County commissioners voted to allocate $13.3 million toward school safety initiatives.

Their plan outlined an ongoing $3 million to fund 61 schools resource officers in the county by the 2021-22 school year, contingent on a 50% annual match from schools in the county, along with the formation of two committees that would dictate spending of a $10 million one-time gift.

One of those committees, dubbed the Physical School Safety and Protection Funding Committee, met for the first time June 14 at the Douglas County Sheriff's Substation in Highlands Ranch. The second committee, called the Supportive Mental Health for Students Funding Committee, will meet at 8:30 a.m. June 21 at the county's Human Services Conference Center, 4400 Castleton Court, in Castle Rock.

At the June 14 meeting, members of the security committee — a mix of law enforcement, school district representatives, parents and security experts —strategized a plan for how to reach an agreement on school safety recommendations in just 30 days. Their goal is to present to the board of county commissioners by July 14.

The process, Dorris said, will be a “balancing act between transparency and good common sense.” Meaning while they want to be transparent to the public, some information will be kept under the wraps in order to protect details vital to school safety.

Also in attendance for a portion of the meeting were the three county commissioners, Douglas County School Board member Anne-Marie Lemieux and a handful of parents, who expressed disappointment with the committees' lack of representation from neighborhood schools — Rich Payne, the Douglas County School District's director of school safety and security, is the lone district representative.

Commissioners stressed that the solution will not be one-size-fits-all and encouraged committee members to be innovative in their ideas.

“Each of you brings an expertise that we are very fortunate to have,” Commissioner Roger Partridge said.

The week of June 17, the committee will meet for briefings on law enforcement protocols and the school district's existing security measures.

The next public meeting is tentatively scheduled at 4 p.m. on Monday, June 24 at the sheriff's substation.

Members appointed by the board of county commissioners:

• Clint Dorris, Castle Rock, nonprofit owner with a military background

• Mike Dell'Orfano, Aurora, deputy fire chief of South Metro Fire Rescue

• Nicole Hunt, Highlands Ranch, attorney, charter school parent

• Kory Nelson, Parker, neighborhood parent, attorney, member of DCSD's Public Safety Advisory Committee

• Steve Bradburn, Castle Pines, Department of Homeland Security

Members recommended by the Douglas County School Board:

• Rich Payne, Colorado Springs, DCSD director of school safety and security

• Lori Bachtel, Highlands Ranch, head of operations at SkyView Academy

Members recommended by Douglas County law enforcement agencies:

• Holly Nicholson-Kluth, Roxborough, undersheriff

• Jack Cauley, Castle Rock, Castle Rock Police chief

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