The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Partnership could improve school safety

  • Benton Grade School Superintendent Jay Goble is reviewing options to improve safety in the schools.
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  • Benton Grade School Superintendent Jay Goble is reviewing options to improve safety in the schools.
    "At Benton Elementary we have a crisis management plan and we review that annually," he said. "However, we are constantly evaluating our campus for safety issues and looking for ways to improve safety.
    "Currently we are in the process at looking at our middle school office set up and working with our architect to improve the current setup," Goble said. "We are also looking at camera and buzzer systems for both the middle school and elementary school entrances to add just one more layer of protection."
    Goble said everyone understands that short of turning schools into armed fortresses you can’t make any school absolutely 100 percent violent proof.
    “It’s just the very sad fact of life in the times we live in," he said. "However, what we can do is continually evaluate, adapt, and be proactive to guard against as many possible contingencies as we can and we certainly are doing that.
    "Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook we have had many discussions regarding school safety.
    "One of the national discussions that came out of that tragedy was the idea of arming school personnel."
    While the superintendent said he personally is not in favor of such an action, he is in favor of a greater police presence in the school.
    "I think there are some excellent ideas out there that will help accomplish this," Goble said. "One idea is to provide the local police department a satellite office within the school. This would simply be a place for the officers to do paperwork and take calls.
    "I think this idea is brilliant.
    “I wish I could say I thought of it myself. However I am certainly not above stealing the idea and I have contacted Benton Police Chief Mike Andrews to see if there might be a way we can form a partnership and provide his department a satellite office in our school starting next year.”
    Goble said such a partnership has other benefits as well in that it provides an opportunity for local police officers to interact daily in a positive way with students.
    "This reinforces the idea that police officers are not people to be feared but are public servants and are here to help us," he said. "In a situation such as this the kids will get to know the officers and the officers will get to know the kids and positive relationships can be established.
    "Chief Andrews and I are in the very early discussion stages of this idea and there are certainly things that we will need to discuss and work out.
    “He has a city council to answer to and I have a school board so we will obviously need to take a proposal to them if we believe a partnership will work for both parties."
    Page 2 of 2 - The superintendent said Benton is lucky to have a chief of police that is already very involved with its young people and very concerned about the youth of his community.
    "He and I have had several discussions and it is clear he has a passion for helping kids so I am very excited about the potential this idea has for our district, for his department, and for our community as a whole," Goble said.
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