School safety forefront in minds at school board meeting
For most of the first 90 minutes of the March 15 Pendleton County School Board meeting, the discussion among audience, board members and staff was about school safety and what the school district is presently doing and what they should be considering.
Donnie Thornton started off the discussion on the subject in addressing the board and asking them to consider the POST program. POST stands for Protecting Our Students & Teachers and is a practical training for deterrence and defense of our schools according to their website.
“If it takes 10 minutes for police to respond after a shooting starts, it’s over. The best thing to for a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun,” implored Thornton.
Thornton, who has five grandkids in the Pendleton County schools, also expressed interest in metal detectors for the schools. “We have metal detectors at the courts and there are no kids there. I am generally against paying higher taxes but would pay higher taxes to protect our kids.”
Several board members had questions and commentsthroughout but Chairperson Shawn Nordheim who is sister-in-law with Thornton indicated that Joe Kalil of the POST program has been invited to present to the board at the April 24 meeting. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and is presently scheduled to be held at the District Training Room at Sharp Middle School.
School Board member Cheri Griffin indicated that she has done some research on the program as it has become a consideration for a lot of districts as they struggle to find an appropriate
measure to ensure the most safety for the kids in their schools.
“POST is totally confidential on who is armed. There is a good video on POS=T on the Internet,” she said.
Thornton questioned “Our tax dollars paying for needles for heroin users, why can our tax dollars not pay for this.”
Nordheim, who had Kalil present the POST program to the school board when she first joined the board 4-6 years ago, indicated she was sold on the program at that time but felt a “multi-layered approach” including counseling
was needed. She likened arming teachers to the response the airline took after 9/11 allowing certain pilots to be armed while also increasing the number of air marshals on flights.
Pendleton County Schools have had a similar response by adding a second School Resource Officer for the remainder of this school year.