by Emily Waldrep
After the heartbreaking shooting that took the lives of 20 kindergarten students in Newtown, Connecticut, several local schools are beginning to take a look at their school security policy and make some changes. Spurger held a special called meeting on Thursday, January 15 and added security as a topic to discuss at their monthly school board meeting on January 17.
"We just need to gather more information on the subject," said Superintendent Joe Fisher. "I am in a hurry for safety, but I'm not in a hurry to try something in the name of safety and then do something we aren't proud of and that doesn't work."
The board members at Spurger didn't take action on any security measures, but did discuss at length about how security should be handled in the future.
After a discussion, the board decided that they needed to look toward acquiring a full-time school police officer to help secure Spurger ISD. The board wants to look toward either hiring their own officer or getting an officer from the Sheriff's department.
"There are plenty of schools within a couple of hours from here that have their own police force," Fisher said. "I want to go to a force so that I can talk to a chief of police that hires multiple school resource officers and see if they can give me some insight into doing that."
The school will also be replacing the current locks on some of the doors in the district, and will look toward a more advanced lock system in the future, although nothing has been decided.
The board also discussed allowing teachers to carry handguns on campus, but decided that letting every teacher with a handgun license carry a handgun couldn't be a reality due to liability and safety issues. But, the board did agree that at least one or more qualified and highly trained individuals should be able to have a gun on campus at all times.
Warren ISD has also discussed their current school safety and security. Currently, Warren boasts solid wooden doors with industrial locks that can't be kicked through or broken by a gun or high caliber bullets, but also want to look at other security measures.
"There are various products out there that we will begin looking at to enhance our safety and security," said Superintendent Lance Johnson. "One is a film that you can put on the outside of your doors and windows that prevents exterior glass from shattering in case a bullet comes through. In an active shooter situation, it may buy you 30 seconds because the shooter would have to physically bust through the film to get into the school."
Johnson also discussed firearms with the board and whether educators should be able to carry guns or weapons on campus. Although there was no action on the matter, Johnson wanted to hear the board members opinions on handguns on campus.
"The current laws allow the school board to approve individuals to carry firearms in the district," Johnson said. "But, there are pros and cons to that model."
The board president asked each member to comment on the issue at hand, and everyone on the board agreed that every certified teacher should not have a gun but it would be helpful if at least one armed person was on each campus.
"There should be designated people in the school that should carry a firearm," said one board member. "It's not right and it isn't fair for a gunman to come in the way this one [in Newtown, Connecticut] did and a school be totally defenseless. He can get in, somehow and someway, and I think we should have something for defense."
"I agree with what has been said," said the Warren ISD Board President. "I'm really apprehensive about how the designated person would be selected. They would need to be volunteers. Then that person would need to be tested to a point that I myself wouldn't want to be examined, but I think we need to be very cautious about guns on the campuses."
Neither of the schools came to any action on the subject of guns on campus, but have agreed that they will move forward with upping the security that helps to protect teachers and students.