DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Simply days after the deadly school shooting at STEM Faculty Highlands Ranch in Might 2019, elected leaders pledged $10 million to improve school safety and mental health. However almost two years later, Denver7 Investigates has found a majority of that cash has not been spent.
Commissioners gave the Douglas County Faculty District (DCSD) $6.8 million to address school security and mental health. The remainder primarily went to non-public and constitution colleges. Thus far, the district has solely spent simply over $1 million or 16% of that cash, based on information obtained by Denver7.
That information is disappointing to John Castillo, whose son 18-year-old son, Kendrick, was killed within the Might 7, 2019 STEM Faculty taking pictures when he was shot by a classmate.
“I’m type of blown away by that, taken again as a result of in all actually, surely, with COVID there has by no means been a extra best time to place a plan in motion,” he mentioned.
Douglas County commissioners had voted unanimously days after the shooting to redirect $10 million dollars from the county’s normal fund and reserves to make these enhancements in colleges.
Castillo mentioned he was glad, even when it was too late to save lots of his son.
“We had been happy to see that these funds had been made accessible. Nevertheless, it was additionally coronary heart wrenching that … it’s like a day too late, if you’ll. It wasn’t sufficient to be there to save lots of our son,” he mentioned. “It’s wonderful how fast after an act of home terror we will discover funds and cash and begin engaged on options.”
Former 18th Judicial District Legal professional George Brauchler was additionally greatly surprised by the district’s lack of spending.
“I’ve received to listen to why. It appears inexplicable to me,” mentioned Brauchler, who’s prosecuting one of many accused STEM Faculty shooters and has 4 youngsters within the district. “I don’t perceive what the delay is, and I believe the neighborhood, me too, deserves to listen to what the small print are of that failure.”
Wealthy Payne, director of faculty safety and security on the Douglas County Faculty District, mentioned the delay is said to the COVID pandemic, because the shutdown halted a number of initiatives.
“It took a special flip for all of us. I might like to have all this accomplished,” he mentioned.
Payne mentioned a sub-committee has already determined the place the remaining $5 million-plus will go. He mentioned the district is simply ready for the initiatives to be accomplished earlier than paying out the funds.
He mentioned he’s attempting to be a great steward and ensure every product and venture are totally vetted.
“I’ve procedures I’ve to comply with,” he mentioned.
Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas mentioned she believes that the scenario can be totally different if not for COVID and hopes the cash shall be spent quickly.
“However that doesn’t imply that the commissioners aren’t watching and anxious and need this accomplished as rapidly as attainable,” she mentioned.
Captain Troy McCarty, with the Douglas Sheriff’s Workplace, was one of many first responding deputies to the STEM Faculty taking pictures and is now a part of the crew ensuring youngsters are safer.
“Each time I drive by the varsity, I consider that day,” he mentioned. “We have mainly doubled the dimensions of our faculty useful resource officers to not solely be in our excessive colleges, however in our center colleges.”
He mentioned the sheriff’s workplace would have wish to have seen the method with the varsity district transfer faster however confused that he understands the dilemma going through the district.
Castillo mentioned he desires the district to “step up your recreation and get to work.” And he doesn’t need some other household to must undergo their ache.
“We are able to’t wait till there’s one other occasion, and this cash simply sitting there – that’s precisely what it’s doing,” he mentioned.
DCSD mentioned it hopes to have all the cash spent by this summer time, earlier than youngsters return to highschool subsequent semester.
The district wouldn’t go into particular particulars about lots of the initiatives, citing safety, however did say a big portion of the cash is being spent on enhancing communication, together with a radio system that may join all 4 regulation enforcement businesses, the varsity and first responders, which didn’t exist earlier than the taking pictures.