Editor, Edmonson Voice:
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, over 98% of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones from the 1950's through 2016. On February 14, a high school in Florida joined this statistic when they experienced a tragic school shooting that took 17 lives and destroyed many others. I have asked the Edmonson County Board of Education to take a fresh look at stepping up efforts here to avoid becoming another statistic. It is hard to imagine Edmonson County could be home to such tragedy, which is exactly how the people of Parkland, Florida, felt on February 13.
District 2 School Board Representative, Alex Ulm, assures me he will bring up the issue of school safety at the upcoming board meeting on Monday, March 12. I appreciate Alex's dedication to this issue and have asked him to discuss at least three issues with the Superintendent and other school board members:
1) A current security assessment of each local school to identify weaknesses and opportunities for improving safety;
2) A discussion with local law enforcement, military veterans and other security experts to explore new strategies for moving schools from "soft" targets to "hardened" targets, less vulnerable to those who would do our children harm;
3) A vote by the Board of Education in the near future to take action on both new preventive measures to discourage attacks as well as stronger active measures to address an incident in-progress.
Many approaches to improving school safety are being discussed by politicians, but like most issues, this is one that can be addressed faster and more efficiently at the local level. The Pike County Board of Education showed us this week that we do not need to wait on Washington, D.C., to protect our children. Pike County became the first school district in Kentucky to pass a preliminary measure that would allow qualified and trained educators and school staff to carry concealed weapons inside schools starting in the fall. Working with their local sheriff's office, Pike County plans to join hundreds of other school districts throughout the country that already use this approach. While this may or may not be the right solution for Edmonson County, it does show that we are not dependent on Washington or Frankfort to take steps to make our children safer when they are outside our supervision and in the care of local educators. Again, literally hundreds of local school districts already have similar measures in place.
I encourage everyone to contact your local School Board representative or the Edmonson County School Board office at 597-2101 and let them know you support a renewed focus on school safety, including stronger preventive and active measures. I believe the people of Edmonson County can work together to make our schools safer for students, staff and the educators we appreciate so much, and I believe it can be accomplished sooner rather than later.