This afternoon I had the opportunity to meet in person with Granite School superintendent Rich N Nye. Through the course of our hour and a half long conversation, superintendent Nye and I engaged in an honest, frank, and blunt back and forth.

I began our conversation by informing the superintendent that while knocking the doors of local residents, I have learned many of the citizens of my district are concerned the recent Spring Lane elementary closing imply Morningside may be next on Granite School District’s chopping block. I explained it is my understanding Spring Lane was closed, in part, because the schools aging local population no longer contains enough students to fill the school–a problem Morningside elementary is also grappling with. Despite our aging population, I also explained my district is blessed with an abundance of financial wealth, and as a result, we contribute a disproportionate share of Granite School District’s overall budget. Therefore, it is in all of our interests to keep Morningside open. I next informed the superintendent the citizens of my district are an incredibly thoughtful and forward leaning people who understand our own property values will plummet if there are not high quality schools local residents can attend. As a consequence, the leaders of our local schools are adapting to these challenges by inviting, embracing, and assisting out of boundary students desiring to share in our abundance. I then concluded by requesting the superintendent educate me on how potential school closures are determined, how likely it is Morningside may be closed and what it is the citizens of my district can do to ensure our beloved Morningside remain viable over the long term.

To his credit, superintendent Nye responded to my concerns with transparent and understandable explanations. While the Morningside boundary does indeed have an aging population, Nye explained, at Spring Lane the vast majority of in boundary parents—for whatever reason—chose to send their children elsewhere. As a consequence, it became impossible keep Spring Lane open. Morningside, at least in the current moment, has a much higher number of in boundary parents who still send their children to the school. Nye also indicated that while Morningside is struggling with declining local enrollment, the school also possess significant advantages, which if properly exploited, can ensure the school remain open for years and perhaps even decades to come. Superintendent Nye then took out his laptop and explained to me–step by step–how the district determines which schools will be closed and which schools will remain open, and the exact dates on which expected milestones will occur. He also offered that it is highly unlikely Moringside will be evaluated within the next two years, and as a result, there is plenty of time for our residents to prepare for any unforeseen contingencies.

My conversation with the Superintendent next examined what local school officials can do to prevent a mass shooting in one of our local schools. I noted to the superintendent it is my understanding the Utah legislature has unfortunately chosen to adopt a series of measures enabling any citizen of our State to walk into a local school with a loaded gun, no questions asked. Given a school shooting was recently threatened at nearby Brighton High School and given schools like Morningside were built at a time when no one even contemplated the possibility of a mass killing, I shared my desire to learn measures we can take to ensure not one single resident of my district is forced to recover the body of a child following a mass shooting. I also relayed Principal Anne Reese’s desire to install panic buttons, bullet proof doors and roller blinds in all school class rooms at her school. I also explained to the superintendent that while students are not supposed to carry loaded weapons onto school grounds, there are currently no mechanism in place ensuring these common sense safety rules are obeyed by all students attending our local schools.

True to form superintendent Nye responded with his usual candor and transparency. The superintendent indicated he too is concerned by the possibility of a potential mass shooting in the district and as a result he is taking active measures to address the problem. The superintendent, for example, indicated he is currently running a pilot program at a nearby school to screen students for loaded weapons. The program became necessary, the superintendent indicated, because during his first year on the job over seventeen loaded weapons were confiscated from children in the district. Sadly, he explained the problem since then has only worsened. Should any local school in my district desire to screen students for loaded fire arms, he explained, there may well be additional tools available in the near future.

The superintendent also explained he appreciates Principal Anne Reeese’s desire to secure funding for panic buttons, bullet proof doors and retractable roller shades at Morningside Elementary and he was saddened to hear her school currently does not have the funding for these items. To my surprise, however, I also learned large sums of money have recently been appropriated by the State legislature to address these needs, and as a result, he desires to do everything within his power to provide Principal Reese with the financial resources requires to protect the lives of our children. I then concluded the conversation by thanking the superintendent for this information and informed him I would share it with Principal Anne Reese.

Should I be fortunate enough to earn the votes of the citizens of my district I have zero doubt myself and superintendent Nye will effectively collaborate. I also walked away from the meeting determined to use Holladay City resources to celebrate the achievements of our school children at all levels while also raising our own academic standards. The city of Holladay Utah, in my opinion, needs to become a real life “shining city on a hill” setting an example not only amongst ourselves but also to the wider Salt Lake Valley.