Landry: Hopi design lacks close attention to safety precautions

A graphic rendering representing the proposed site of the Hopi Elementary School rebuild. (Submitted graphic)

Editor’s note: this letter was originally sent to the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board on Oct. 26th

First, I would like to express my complete disdain over how the recent special board meeting was conducted.

It became apparent right from the beginning the meeting and vote was a sham. As a licensed architect of 28 years, I can confidently say there are many reasons why the current design for Hopi fails. I will not cover them all, nor will I delineate the value in reusing some of the existing school to create a far better solution for parents, students, teachers, and the community at large.

I will only focus on one point that needs to be addressed.

As each member of the board took their turn to support their vote, I heard several express their need to be fiscally responsible and think first about the children, especially when it comes to security. Many of us contend the cost estimates for the options to redesign the project were overinflated to make them seem fiscally objectionable.

Be that as it may, there is a far greater reason to consider a different design that would reuse the existing facility, as well as build new structures along Lafayette.

One of the critical issues with the current design is that it places the new building in the northeast corner of the site, creating a major security risk. In light of the concern with mass shootings at schools such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, the safety of our children should be top priority.

With the position of the new building, the design (as it is now) will have all of the playgrounds placed in front of the school along Rubicon. Any psychopath does not even have to get through building security to cause serious harm; they only need to drive down Rubicon with an assault rifle during recess, easily able to take down far too many of our children.

It would be like shooting fish in a barrel, similar to what happened to our Congressmen who were attacked at their baseball practice. That is, except for one fact: they had security officers with guns who immediately came to their rescue. Our children will be defenseless. The correct solution is to have the play fields in the northeast corner, protected by a barrier of buildings along Rubicon and Lafayette.

Unfortunately, you as the board were completely uninterested in considering the very legitimate concerns and ideas of our group, all of which believe the current design approach is flawed beyond “simple fixes.” I trust that you were not aware of this specific security flaw and hope you will reconsider your support for the current design before it goes up and tragedy strikes.

Editor’s note: Mr. Landry is a resident of Scottsdale

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