LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Students returning to Ballard High in a few weeks will notice a big change – the once wide-open courtyard situated between the school's two main buildings is now enclosed by doors and brickwork.

"This sort of evolved out of the tragedies that have taken place at other schools," said Jim Jury, the school's principal. "We are trying to restrict access to the courtyard during the course of the day so that our students are more secure."

But at the same time, Jury said it was important to preserve the "open look" as much as possible. Teachers use the courtyard as a classroom throughout the day and many students use it as a cut-through to get to their classes.

"The doors have windows on them, but they have locks," he said. "We will also have a ring-in system where you will have to push a button in order to get into the building. This is all new for us."

It's a project that is costing Jefferson County Public Schools approximately $92,000 – although $15,000 of it is coming from Ballard because Jury said school officials wanted to change the architect's plan for the building's entrance.

"We wanted the entrance to look really nice, which is why we went with the altered brick look," he said. "We wanted to preserve as much of the openness as possible."

Ballard High opened in 1968 and is one of Louisville's largest high schools with an enrollment of about 2,000 students. The district has done very little construction to the school, with the exception of the addition of the Sandy Allen Fine Arts Center, which opened in 1998.

Jury said most teachers, students and parents understand the reasoning behind enclosing the courtyard.

"Not everyone may like it, but they understand why," he said.

Alan Jones, whose son will be a senior this fall, said he isn't a fan of the enclosure.

"Ballard is a unique school -- it is more like a small college campus than a high school with the courtyard," he said. "But safety should always come first when it involves the students and teachers."

Sophomore Brian Williams said before the enclosure was built, it was easy for "anyone to walk into Ballard."

"I think it will be safer now," said Williams, 15, who also thinks it will prevent some kids from skipping class.

"I like how it used to be more open, but we still have the opening (on top) with the sun to come in, so it's still OK," he said.

Joshua Marsh, a chemistry teacher at Ballard said the enclosure was needed.

"I think that safety is a big issue -- you have to make sure that kids are safe," he said. "It's a necessity."

Marsh said he likes how new construction turned out.

"They have done a great job tying it into the existing structure and making it look like it has been there the whole time," he said.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0839 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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