Safety is key issue facing schools

“Money shouldn’t be the issue if we’re talking about safety.”

Those words, spoken by the usually fiscally conservative Superintendent Larry Kauzlarich, sum up the view of many when it comes to the safety of schoolchildren in a time when parents and educators are justifiably skittish about the issue.

December’s school shooting in Connecticut brought these issues to the forefront, and New Prague, like many other school districts in the United States, is trying to be proactive on the topic.

At Monday’s New Prague Area School Board meeting, administrators from each of the district’s five schools, as well as the community education and early childhood directors, reported to the board on what steps they have taken to increase school safety.

What the board learned is that the district, even before the Sandy Hook shooting, had taken proactive measures to protect its students, and that each school has adjusted its plans after discussion following those shootings.

Still, as high school principal Tom Doig said, “No matter what plan you have, it’s still just a plan. Things don’t always go according to plan.”

Kauzlarich talked about things the district can do to reduce any threat, and indicated that the district could go so far as to lock all exterior doors and require office staff to “buzz in” visitors into the building. It’s a step that was endorsed by two parents who spoke to the board about their concerns. While doing so might not stop an armed person from entering the building, it could slow them down and give teachers extra time to safeguard students.

Two things came out of the discussion: first, our school district is taking a proactive approach to this important issue; second, there is more that can be done.

Recent incidents in Chaska and Montgomery reinforce the need to act. The district will look at what makes sense from a safety standpoint and the administration will bring recommendations to the board to consider this spring. These are positive steps.