As kids head back, safety is paramount
As the new school year quickly approaches, it’s sad that many of us with children or grandchildren in local school buildings will suffer fear, anxiety and concern over their safety and security.
That’s why we are pleased to see the state of Ohio taking steps to make our local school buildings safer for all who enter.
Controversial legislation, House Bill 99, that recently passed into law now could allow teachers and administrators to carry firearms into school buildings.
We understand this is an issue that many Ohioans never will agree upon. But whether or not we agree, we all know that the act of arming teachers who are willing to be trained and to carry weapons inside our school buildings is only one part of an effort to keep our students and teachers safe.
Gov. Mike DeWine, who recently signed that bill into law, stressed on Tuesday that is only a part of the issue. During his presentation in Columbus when he outlined a firearms training program, DeWine also outlined more funding for Ohio schools, including many locally, in order to improve security measures.
In fact, nearly $47 million in grants will be awarded to more than 1,100 schools in the state to assist with safety and security needs.
These funds may be used to cover expenses associated with physical security enhancements, such as cameras, public address systems, automatic door locks, visitor badging systems and exterior lighting.
In Mahoning County, Youngstown City Schools received the largest security allocation, $550,000. Some of the others receiving funding included Boardman Local School District, $279,310; Jackson-Milton Local School District, $93,930; Lowellville Local School District, $100,000; and Poland Local School District, $200,000. These are just a few.
We have consistently been adamant that security in our school buildings must be paramount.
Local schools must take full advantage of this significant funding being made available to ensure that our buildings are appropriately fortified. Further, everyone must understand the risks that come with not fully utilizing the equipment or fortifications provided with these funds.
If metal detectors or weapon scanners are purchased, they must be used all the time to scan all who enter. If doors are better equipped for security measures, then they must be closed and locked as necessary. All exits also always should be alarmed. That way if the door is opened, it is known — immediately.
Surveillance cameras, especially at all exterior doorways, are critical.
Staffing police officers or security officers in the buildings also is a critical part of this.
Yes, it’s sad that we need to take such measures to keep our school buildings safe. But that is our reality today. Frankly, if we are able to scan thousands of concert goers at venue gates or tens of thousands of fans lined up to enter Major League Baseball games, then certainly we can scan hundreds of kids each day in order to keep everyone inside safe.
We’ve said it before: we must not impose limits when it comes to keeping our children safe.