So far this year, on average, there has been about one fatal school shooting per week, with the most recent being the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that killed 10.
The day after the shooting, a report published on Page A1 of The Journal Times let the public know that area schools are in the process of applying for school safety grants made available in March, totaling $100 million.
Burlington Area School District Superintendent Peter Smet said the district already has security systems in place, such as locked doors during school hours, camera/intercom systems to let people in, security cameras, and phones in every classroom.
Grant funds would be put toward “hardening” all school entrances, further enhancing access control and increasing camera surveillance.
Racine Unified School District hasn’t released the details of its safety plan. However, at a school board meeting earlier this month, district officials said they are updating and evaluating their crisis response plans, bringing a law-enforcement presence into more schools and looking into the benefits and drawbacks of using metal detectors at school entrances.
In the Kenosha Unified School District, officials are seeking an alert system, digital cameras, gunshot detection equipment, installation of protective film on the glass of main entrances and classroom entrances, and staff training for crisis intervention and threat assessment, the Kenosha News reported.
When you divide the $100 million available to the state, that is about $32,000 per school.
While a lot more than that would be needed to truly prevent casualties at a school, that $100 million is a start.
Better cameras could catch suspicious behavior before it’s too late. Protective glass could save an employee or student from being shot. Metal detectors could stop a gun or knife from getting into a school in the first place.
Every time a school shooting happens, the public analyzes the situation. It should have been caught because of one factor or it should have been stopped earlier because of another factor.
There is never one easy answer. At minimum, this grant will get districts discussing better security measures.
As part of the grant, districts also have to work with law enforcement.
“A primary goal of this grant program is to forge long-lasting partnerships between our schools and the law enforcement community,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel.
We need to get beyond thoughts and prayers and take some real action. This is a start.