School safety is priority in area

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

In light of the recent school shootings in the past week, area schools have heightened their awareness of campus activities and are emphasizing the safety measures that are in place at their respective schools.

Two of the schools involved in the recent shootings are comparative in size to the rural schools in Roosevelt County.

“There is concern, said Steve Barron, Dora Schools Superintendent.

We’re looking into the situation and meeting with other administrators and putting together a plan in case something of this magnitude happens.”

According to Portales School Superintendent Randy Fowler, the Portales school district has several safety measures that have been in place before the recent shootings. All teachers are required to wear identification tags, and so must the high school students, said Fowler.

Some of these issues did arise after the Columbine shootings, said Fowler.

The Portales schools also require that all visitors check into the office at the schools when they are on campus, said Fowler. This is to ensure the students’ safety and to make sure that person is there for a legitimate reason, said Fowler.

Floyd Schools also has the same policy in effect for their school, said Paul Benoit, superintendent. In the event of a similar situation, teachers would be notified and the classrooms and students would be put on lockdown, said Benoit.

Another aspect that Benoit emphasized is knowing the kids. Being a small school allows that opportunity for the staff, said Benoit. In the school, Benoit wants the staff to be able to see if a child is in need of help, before it becomes a situation, said Benoit.

“It’s a blessing we can know our kids, said Benoit. I think it’s imperative for the kids to know there is at least one adult in the school they can go to and say hey, I need some help.”

Other issues that are being addressed are the students and staff being aware of what is going on around them, said Fowler. The children need to be aware of things around them that are not appropriate. Anything that is out of place, they need to let an adult know, said Fowler.

The schools are always going over their plans of action and evaluating what could be done in any situations that arise, said Fowler. The schools are following safety plans that are already in place, he said.

“We have the most precious people in town going to our schools, said Fowler. We are trying to provide a safe environment for them.”

On a national level, the Bush administration plans to unite education and law enforcement experts for a conference on handling the problem and discuss federal action that can help communities prevent violence and cope in its aftermath, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters Tuesday.

Three schools have been hit by deadly attacks in the past week. A gunman killed himself and five girls Monday at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania; on Friday a 15-year-old Wisconsin student shot and killed his principal; and last Wednesday a man took six girls hostage in Colorado, sexually assaulting them before fatally shooting one girl and killing himself.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.