Schools should fund security measures, panel told
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
1/22/13 at 6:01 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY — In a time of mass shootings, public schools must integrate funding for security in their baseline budgets, a national school security expert told the Oklahoma Commission on School Security on Tuesday.
“Ultimately, school districts are going to have to incorporate school security into their operating budgets and not view it as a grant-funded luxury,” said Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services.
“Just as we budget for a counselor, a psychologist, custodians, food service cafeteria workers, secretaries, we’re going to have to have serious conversations at the local level to say if we want a school-based police officer. We can’t wait and hope that we get a grant.”
Trump presented several suggestions on ways for school districts to strengthen their security systems, including better training for educators and students, accountability programs to ensure schools are looking at their security needs, partnering with noneducators such as homeland security officials, and strengthening in-school security and resource officers.
“These are the things that we can and should be doing,” Trump said.
Between 2000 and 2010, more than 120 school violence plots were thwarted, and in many case in-house school security was the key to saving students’ lives, he said.
After the meeting, two school superintendents on the commission said they appreciated the ideas that Trump and others brought to the panel, but if the state wants to increase school security, it will have to provide districts with the funding to pay for the changes.
“We very much want to have the safest secure environment for our students,” Bartlesville School Superintendent Gary Quinn said. “However ... with budgets already being stretched and us trying to do the best over time to make sure our students are succeeding academically, it’s going to be very difficult to get more money for these security items without assistance from another source.”
Sapulpa School Superintendent Kevin Burr said Trump’s comments caught his attention.
“There’s not a chance in the world that we should be responsible for this in our current budget status,” Burr said. “We don’t have enough money to cover the things we’re doing now.”
While ensuring adequate security is critical for schools, adding an unfunded mandate to the situation will only stress an already overburdened system, he said.
If the taxpayers of Oklahoma want more school security programs, those programs will have to be funded, Burr said.
Read more in Wednesday's Tulsa World.
Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police Chief Gary Rudick listens with other committee members during a meeting of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security, which convened for the first time Tuesday afternoon. JIM BECKEL/The Oklahoman