Letter: ‘We are out of space and our schools are over capacity’

Ridgefield resident Jodi Fontyn shares her thoughts on the Ridgefield School Bond, which is on the Feb. 11 special election ballot

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com.

I recently attended a special board meeting for the Ridgefield School District where the topic of discussion was school safety and security. The speakers were Clark County Fire & Rescue Chief John Nohr, Ridgefield Police Chief John Brooks, and Ridgefield resident and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools Alissa Parker. 

Jodi Fontyn
Jodi Fontyn

Safe and Sound Schools is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving school safety across the United States through crisis prevention, response, and recovery. For more information visit https://www.safeandsoundschools.org/ . School security and safety are a passion for Alissa, because on Dec. 14, 2012, her 6-year-old daughter Emilie was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Most of us remember the news that day and the updates that followed, but listening to Alissa tell her story and recount the nightmare that she, her husband and so many others lived that day, left a lasting impact on me and everyone else in attendance that evening. 

As an employee of Ridgefield School District, I’ve often times wondered what it would be like to have this kind of tragedy unfold in one of our schools. It’s easy to think that it won’t happen here. Ridgefield is a safe community; this sort of thing doesn’t happen in towns like ours. Well guess what? Newtown, Connecticut is also a safe community with a low crime rate. It can happen anywhere; it is happening everywhere. That’s what Alissa reminded us that night. We have to be prepared. We have to say, “When it happens,” not “If it happens.” We need to do all we can to prevent it, and be prepared to respond should it happen. 

Aside from being moved beyond words from hearing about Alissa’s horrific, heartbreaking experience, one major takeaway for me was the sense of pride and gratitude that I felt when I wrapped my thoughts around the fact that she and her husband chose Ridgefield as their new community and that they trust the Ridgefield School District with the education, and even more so, the safety of their surviving children. 

On Feb. 11, voters will have the opportunity to assure that Ridgefield School District continues its forward progress in growing and maintaining the premier educational programs that they are known for, providing reasonably sized campuses that promote community, culture, and safe learning environments for our students. The bond will provide funding for a new K-4 school on the east side of I-5 near Ridgefield Junction. The land was purchased and the plans were drawn with money collected from impact fees on new home construction. The site is shovel ready, with the opening of the new school at the start of the 2021-22 school year. 

It will also fund a new 5-6 intermediate school on the south end of the district near the 179th Street interchange, where housing is expected to explode in the next year. It will fund a new Vocational Ed building with added classrooms at Ridgefield High School, repurposing of the old vocational building for maintenance and warehouse space, and provide improvements to playgrounds at the existing elementary schools. 

As enrollment in RSD continues to explode, this bond is not just a want; it is an absolute necessity. There is no plan B for housing our students. There is not adequate space to place enough portables on our current sites, and even if there were, our campuses would become so overcrowded, the quality of our schools and the safety of our students and staff would be greatly hindered. 

We are out of space and our schools are over capacity. Please join me in voting YES!

Jodi Fontyn

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