Fears that school violence could spread to Lincoln County motivated two local moms to appear Tuesday before the Board of Education, calling for measures to increase security.
“Since Sandy Hook, we moms and dads feel like our schools are sitting ducks for the next massacre,” Elisha Scott told board members. “Now everyone knows that elementary schools don’t have police officers like the high schools and middle schools do.”
“We’re scared,” said the mother of a student at St. James Elementary School in Denver. “We’re terrified when we drop off our kids in the morning. We start to breathe easier when they return home.”
Scott called for action to put armed law enforcement officers in Lincoln County elementary schools, noting that existing surveillance isn’t sufficient, as parents learned from what happened in the recent massacre in Connecticut. “If they want to get in, they’re going to get in,” she said.
“I don’t really know what my beliefs about guns are right now, but we need them in our schools.”
Her tone was echoed by another mom from across the county, Kris Bartone, who has a student at Union Elementary School in Vale. Although she agreed that armed guards are probably needed, Bartone expressed concern of even basic surveillance and security measures at her child’s school.
“We don’t have buzzers,” she said. “We don’t have cameras. On the Friday that Sandy Hook happened, my husband went up to Union to drop off my daughter’s inhaler and he said in that office and no one said a word.”
She said she and other PTA members were ready to raise money to put better security equipment in place and would also work with parents at other schools.
Board Chair Candy Burgin thanked the mothers for sharing their concerns and noted that she is also an elementary school parent who knows how they feel.
Superintendent Sherry Hoyle advised the mothers that the schools are already looking at additional measures and expect to discuss specific steps during board committee meetings slated for next Tuesday.
Hoyle said options such as camera surveillance and buzz-in systems for doors are being considered. Sheriff David Carpenter has also been working closely with the schools to look at security measures, Hoyle said.
Scott also told board members that she had previously raised her concerns with county commissioners who appeared willing to pay for additional security measures if requested by the School Board.
In other action at Tuesday’s board meeting:
The board unanimously agreed to add the Denver Spartan Lacrosse Team to the list of clubs and organizations that are allowed to send information on enrollment in their activities home with students. Board member Bob Silver commented that he applauded the volunteers who are involved in such programs to create activities for the county’s youth.
The board unanimously approved a new policy for establishing meeting dates and times. The new policy requires the board to specify meeting dates in advance but does not identify a preference for any particular day and time. In practice, the board has indicated it will now generally conduct meetings at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesdays of each month, beginning with this month, and the third Tuesday of each month for committee meetings. Previously the board policy set meetings for 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesdays and committees on the third Wednesdays.
In a separate action, the board approved its meetings calendar for 2013, with regular meetings at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, Feb. 12, March 12, April 9, May 14, June 11, July 9, Aug. 13, Sept. 10, Oct. 8, Nov. 12 and Dec. 10. Committee meetings are set for Jan. 15, Feb. 19, March 19, April 16, May 21, June 18, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Nov. 19 and Dec. 17; times could fluctuate depending on the agenda.
The board recognized members of the 2012 East Lincoln Mustangs football team, which went undefeated and won the state 2A championship. Superintendent Hoyle praised team members for their accomplishments on the field and their exhibition of sportsmanship and citizenship at all times.
The board recognized West Lincoln Middle School student Eric Gunter, who won the county spelling bee last week with a successful spelling of “alleviate.”
Board members noted that they will be meeting for a special joint session with the Board of Commissioners at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Board of Education Office on North Generals Boulevard in Lincolnton, as both boards prepare to go through their annual budget process.