School officials are looking to up Polk County’s classroom security with a host of new measures, and not only is hiring a security guard for every school the kick off to the safety policies, the district is already taking applicants.
“There will be someone in every school now,” Polk School Board member Tommy Sanders said. “We have people in the high schools, but as of now, we don’t have any in the elementary schools. Our goal is to have retired police.”
That’ll place an officer in each of the elementary schools in the district, but those officers will not be mandated through the Cedartown or Rockmart Police Department.
Instead, the new hires will be under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s office and be deputized, but will be Polk School District employees instead of serving police officers as the middle and high schools have now.
The school’s parameters are also seeing updates with the board having completed safety assessments at all schools, and the group is looking at updated fencing, improved locks, and security cameras.
Should everything work out, Polk County schools will also have an early notification system that alerts the police in the wake of danger.
Of course, gun violence and outsider threats are not the only dangers students and faculty face. Failure to follow guidelines, building danger, nutrition, fights, and other hazards can leave students feeling less than safe, and the board is looking to create a Safety Department that will oversee schools and make sure guidelines are being followed.
“There will be safety coordinators inside schools that make sure guidelines and safety measures are up to standard,” Superintendent Laurie Atkins said. “There will be district officers that monitor parking lots, monitor building security, and that can fill in for the resource officers so we’re never without a security guard..”
While certain safety personnel stays inside schools, other members of the safety board will be roaming and monitoring various schools. The board seems dedicated to these changes, and locals can expect these updates soon.
“We’re ironing things out, but this is the way to go,” Sanders said.
Moves to improve school safety come in the wake of both an incident that has sparked a national conversation about better security in classrooms following the death of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The school district in the weeks following then underwent its own threat of violence in the past weeks, which prompted school officials to lock down campuses across the district and later ended in the arrest of the accused sender of those posts.
Officials are hoping that additional security measures will help, but also need better information to avoid the dangers in the first place.
Atkins previously and continues to call on parents and guardians to get involved in the process as well by keeping up with what their children are seeing online, and encouraged parents and students to report behavior and social media posts that threaten to harm or bully others.
An anonymous and secure notification system for reporting issues will be added to the district and school websites, but hadn’t yet been made available at press time.