At the beginning of a Monday meeting for the Sampson County Board of Education, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. was in the thoughts and prayers of vice chair Kim Schmidlin.
The school went through a horrific school shooting on Feb. 14, which took the lives of 17 people. Later during the meeting, Sampson board members spoke about security in light of the incident.
“I do want to share with everyone here and let the public know that’s certainly something that this board is concerned about and we have been discussing it,” said Tim Register, board president.
The district recently went through a security review with Mark Hammond, executive director of auxiliary services, and the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department.
“We were actually ahead of this last incident, being concerned about access to our buildings and trying to make our buildings as safe as they can,” Register said.
Register said there’s been questions regarding the amount of School Resource Officers (SRO) in the area. Detailed job descriptions and expectations of SROs will be provided to the board and the public.
“We would like the public to understand that one of our greatest desires would be to add more resource officers into our schools, Register said. “It’s obviously a costly endeavor when you start talking about personnel.”
The district does not have funding to add additional officers at schools. Register said he spoke with the sheriff’s department and other board members to find out ways to add more officers.
“That’s the path that we’re pursuing,” Register said. “We know the public is concerned and we want the public to know that we’re trying to be proactive and make sure that our schools are safe as possible.”
Schmidlin said the incident in Broward County, Fla. was a very sobering moment. Like many others, she feels that safety in schools is a top priority for everyone, but more improvements requires additional funding, which may require help from state leaders. She believes the matter should be addressed when it comes to state funding as well.
“While I do think that part of the funding responsibility goes to our county, I also believe that the General Assembly should be providing extra funds for us for security,” Schmidlin said. “I encourage all of you to reach out to your state representatives and the governor.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.