Larry Caudill, a parent whose children attend R.W. Combs Elementary here in Perry County, made a good point in his address to the county board of education on Thursday.
The board, in its approval of a new athletics complex at the East Perry Elementary site, has set aside well over $200,000 in coal severance funds for the installation of artificial turf on the new football field. If the board can afford to spend that much money on athletics, Caudill said, then surely the board can set aside enough funding to install adequate security features in our schools.
With the recent tragedy in Connecticut and the various school shootings that came before, it should be obvious that this type of thing can happen anywhere. We applaud the board’s decision to begin the process of looking closely at school safety, but we’re left a little confused as to when this issue will ultimately be addressed.
Board member Jerry Stacy, in noting the district’s financial situation, promised to remain focused on school safety, but cautioned that upgrades to the school’s security won’t happen overnight as these upgrades must be paid for.
Stacy is correct. Security upgrades will be expensive. Finance Officer Jody Maggard estimated $100,000 at least. That’s money the district doesn’t have lying around, to be certain. But as Mr. Caudill noted, if we can set aside enough money to ensure that our athletes are playing in the best facilities possible, why can’t the funds be found to ensure our students are learning in the safest environment possible?
Perhaps we don’t really need artificial turf.
Times are tough. No one will argue that. And with more school shootings occurring every year times are getting tougher, which is precisely why we hope the board will address safety issues sooner rather than later. This is one issue on which we cannot afford to wait.
— The Hazard Herald