- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Editor’s note: In this week’s story, read about how local education officials are addressing school safety concerns and how second-amendment rights are being addressed in state and federal government.
School safety discussions surface following Sandy Hook shooting
Most all school officials across the country have considered how to better ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff following the December Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, but one fact has become apparent during local discussions about school safety: There is no easy answer and no safety plan is guaranteed to be 100 percent effective.
The Spencer County Board of Education began discussing school safety following the tragic shootings and continues to research the feasibility of partnering with a local law enforcement agency to provide the district with a school resource officer.
Board members most recently discussed the issue with the Taylorsville City Commission about splitting the cost of a resource officer between the city and school district, but the details of the plan have not been determined.
Some Spencer County Fiscal Court members have also showed interest in possibly partnering with the district to provide a resource officer from the sheriff’s department, but those discussions are largely dependent upon the board solidifies an agreement with the city commission.
The board voted at its Monday meeting to enter into a partnership with the city to establish a school resource officer position, but who would fill that position and the agreement’s details are still largely unknown. The city commission has offered to provide the district two part-time officers to fill the position, but Superintendent Chuck Adams and other board members were not sure that was the best answer for the district.
Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis said the commission offered the two part-time officers because it was the most cost effective option for the money-strapped city.
Adams said the district was still analyzing the offer.
“I’m still not 100 percent confident that it would be a financial break for us doing it this way,” Adams said. “Right now, this is the only option that Chief Lewis has been given from the city.”
Board member Sandy Clevenger said that the district should avoid a “knee jerk” reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy and make decisions that best fit the district’s safety needs. She said hiring a resource officer that would share time between the schools would most likely not prevent a catastrophic tragedy, but that the officer could form valuable relationships with students and help address every day safety and crime issues within the schools.
Board member Debbie Herndon said that whenever the particulars of the contract are determined, the board should be ready.
“We need to be ready to put it in action,” Herndon said.
The district has also reassessed its safety procedures and reevaluated its security mechanisms, ensuring that entrances, exits and classrooms are properly secured. The district’s emergency response plan has also been reviewed at each school.
The board has had little discussion regarding the controversial possibility of arming teachers. Adams said in an interview with The Spencer Magnet that he did not believe educators needed to shoulder the additional burden of arming themselves.
“They are charged with educating the next generation — a difficult enough endeavor considering the current state of our society,” Adams said. “Far too often, lawmakers attempt to make schools a catch-all for a failing society rather than focus on the basic, vital purpose our educational system was originally designed for.”
State and federal government officials discuss firearms rights, gun safety
State and federal government officials have been debating for weeks the American people’s rights to keep and bear firearms and how those rights should be regulated.
Many of the government officials representing Spencer County in the state legislature, as well as those representing Kentucky in congress, have been vocal in sharing their opinions on the issue.
U.S. Representative Thomas Massie garnered national attention and mixed reaction in January when he introduced his proposal to repeal the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act. According to a press release from Massie’s media center, the bill, known as the Citizens Protection Act of 2013, would allow firearms on school property and would repeal the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act.
“Gun-free zones are ineffective,” Massie said. “They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no risk environments. Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.”
Spencer County Democratic Party President Carmin Gaines said, while she supports second amendment rights, that arming educators and allowing guns on school properties would not solve the problem. She also noted that her personal views did not necessarily represent those of the party.
“If we are turning our schools into the wild west, will we also be providing guns to our cafeteria workers and librarians? Should we also allow the children themselves to carry guns since there would be a chance that it would be one of the adults who would perpetrate an assault? At what point do we admit that the answer to gun violence might not be more guns?” Gaines said.
Massie said in the press release that he believed weapons-free zones were unconstitutional.
“They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence. But they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves,” he said.
Massie reiterated his support for the second amendment on Feb. 1 at Spencer County’s Lincoln Day Dinner, which is a local Republican Party fundraiser.
“You can be sure that I’m going to vote no on any gun control bill that comes before the U.S. House,” he told the audience.
President Barack Obama continues to push for big changes in gun control, including a proposal that includes an assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks for firearms owners.
However, much of the president’s proposal has met staunch opposition by Senate republicans and there are questions as to if Obama can rally enough bipartisan support to enact any real changes to federal firearms laws.
Kentucky’s 55th district Rep. Kim King recently posted links to all the proposed state legislation regarding gun control and second amendment rights on her Facebook page so constituents could view the proposals. None of the proposed bills have been passed and many are expected to die before action is taken.
To access the links, visit http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/kimberly-paige-murphy-king/2nd-amendment-bills-being-considered-in-the-2013-ky-general-assembly/10151418288274036.