School safety has been on the minds of many since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Conn. Caesar Rodney School District held a town-hall style meeting on Wednesday to start an open dialogue between parents and concerned community members and officials. Officials who assembled included legislators, Kent County Levy Court commissioners and school administrators.
Caesar Rodney Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald and Polytech High School Superintendent Deborah Zych opened the night by briefing those assembled on the safety measure in place for district schools. One of the key pieces of their school safety plans involve support from school resource officers.
"We like having our school resource officers," said Fitzgerald "They play an important part in our school safety plan. Our school resource officers make a connection and keep bad things from ever happening."
Not every school has a resource officer, though. Fitzgerald said it would cost $100,000 per school to put a resource officer in every building.
"Unfortunately due to budget cuts, there has been a reduction in school resource officers," Fitzgerald said. "At one time we had three. We're down to two. There isn't any money for increased school resource officers."
Even if the district cannot afford a resource officer in every school they are working towards having more officers. Polytech did not previously have a resource officer but the school board recently authorized for the school the receive one.
"The school board felt that the school resource officer was a necessary support in a drastically changing world," said Zych
Some members of the community expressed Wednesday night that an armed school resource officer is not enough to protect students. Nick Morpus, a local student from DSU, enquired about the possibility of equipping teachers, who already hold concealed weapons permits, with guns in their classrooms.
"I haven't seen one way or the other whether that would make the schools safer or not," Fitzgerald said. "Right now I feel that having a school recourse officer that has a weapon is a deterrent."
Fitzgerald encouraged community members to make use of the resource officers as well. He asked them to keep their ears and eyes open for anyone who may be acting suspicious or if they felt there might be a threat to the school and to inform the right people of it.
"If you think there is a student doing something suspicious or you've heard something, call my office or I would refer you to our school resource officer and have them investigate it," Fitzgerald said.