Connecticut shooting prompts security talk

By Bill Felber

School board members took time from their meeting Wednesday to remember the 20 children and six teachers shot to death in Sandy Hook, Ct., last week, and to briefly discuss what, if anything, could be done here to prevent a similar occurrence.

Board president Dave Colburn noted that everyone’s desire is for a safe and secure learning environment, and added that the district has already taken steps to improve that environment. But he also asked, “how do you achieve security without a feeling that kids are going to school in a reverse prison?”

Supt. Bob Shannon said the district’s recently completed bond issue included spending for security upgrades. He added that more frequent discussions with RCPD and Manhattan Fire Department officials have also helped. “We know each other … we can talk more comfortably with one another,” he said. Shannon also praised the commitment of teachers to safety. Pointing out that several teachers died trying to intervene in the Connecticut shooting, Shannon told board members that “there are teachers (here) … who would do the same. For that we should be proud.”

Board member Beth Tatarko joined Colburn in pleading for increased availability of mental health services. The jails are becoming the responsible mental health provider,” she said.

Shannon reported that lunch-hour security at Manhattan High School has been tightened. Responding to a point made by board member Walt Pesaresi during recent discussions regarding open lunch practices, and reiterated Wednesday night, Shannon said only two doors other than the front door are now left open so that students can leave and enter.

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