Don’t overdo school security

February 2, 2014

It should come as no surprise that another senseless public shooting, the latest one occurring Jan. 25 at The Mall in Columbia (Md.) would resurrect talk among school officials and board members as to safety at the schools they are entrusted by voters to serve and protect.

Such was the case last Tuesday when Central Greene School Board spent a portion of its meeting discussing the need for enhanced school security across the district’s facilities.

While school board members have the responsibility of establishing policy and procedures to be carried out by administration and staff, they are not present in the schools on a daily basis, like principals, teachers, support staff and, of course, students. So whatever decision a school board makes regarding enhanced school security directly impacts the daily operations of a school building, regardless of whether it contains high schoolers or kindergartners.

Central Greene board member Eleanor Chapman said at the meeting the time to act on improved school security is well overdue.

“I don’t feel like we’re doing enough sitting here talking about it. I feel the board needs to decide what we are going to do and get it done,” she said.

To the best of our knowledge, the five Greene County school districts implemented security measures years ago. For example, in 1999, Carmichaels Area School District hired a police officer to be a “security director,” requiring him to be a presence in all buildings. That person remains employed by the district to this day.

And this brings us back to Central Greene.

Among the options discussed last week was hiring a security force composed of retired state troopers who would already be versed in how to address an emergency if one happened. It was suggested by several board members that the district should decide to get something in place quickly, for the remainder of the school year. Currently, the district is working with Waynesburg Borough Police Department to explore security needs and ensure a police presence is noted inside the middle, elementary and high schools.

But is a police presence really necessary? The world is already a scary place.

Do first, second and third-graders walking through the halls need to see a police officer or officers in uniform becoming part of their daily educational landscape?

Of course, we recognize the age of innocence enjoyed by so many of us has long departed. That is what happens when we keep seeing and hearing about inexplicable violence.

And all the Greene County schools have security measures in place to protect those working and learning inside the school buildings. There are buzzers to press to be admitted; cameras are recording who is coming and going; and all who enter must sign in and wear tags.

Apparently, these measures are not adequate for some members of the Central Greene board.

The district has a crisis response committee composed of faculty, administration and board members who are looking into additional security measures, but specific recommendations have not been made to the board.

Nothing should be taken for granted, but the measures in place now in these districts seem to be working.

All that is left to do is install metal detectors, do pat-down searches, background checks and find the resources to pay the salaries of police officers.



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