The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 6, 2013


— Editor’s note: The Register-Herald’s parent company, Community Newpaper Holdings Inc., has papers all over the United States. Each Friday, this space will be dedicated to what one of those papers thinks about the issues facing the nation.

In the nearly 12 months since the horrific shooting of 20 innocent students and six staff members at an elementary school in Connecticut, school security has remained an important issue.

That’s not just our opinion. Consider that almost 90 percent of U.S. school systems have made changes to their facilities or security policies since last year’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

That’s according to a report last month by Bloomberg regarding a survey of 600 school districts that will be published in Campus Safety Magazine. In addition, Bloomberg reported that annual spending on school security systems is projected to jump to $4.9 billion in 2017 from $2.7 billion last year, in part because of mass killings like the one in Newtown.

Schools are meant to be safe havens, where the focus is on math, science and other subjects geared toward making students successful in their future endeavors. Parents shouldn’t have to worry when they send their children to school each day.

The Marion County Board of Education clearly realizes that, and earlier this week members approved an allocation of $10,000 to each school in the county to be used for security and maintenance purposes.

Superintendent of Schools Gary Price said he recommended the approval based on the way the schools have used the money in previous years, and each school will provide the board with a detailed report of how it plans to use the money.

“We’re proud to be able to make that money available,” Price said. “We are certainly impressed with how the schools have spent their allocation, and that’s why we continue to recommend it.”

Even though the funds won’t go exclusively to what might be considered common safety measures — last year, the money was used to meet individual school needs such as bell systems, lighting, roof repairs, playground resurfacing and more, and the BOE approved this year’s funding because of the successful way the money was used in past years — we hope the funds are used for their intended purposes. After all, renovations and improvements of any type are an important step to consider when it comes to having safe schools.

Statistics show that students learn best and achieve their full potential in safe and orderly classrooms. Thanks to the BOE’s fiscal responsibility, the county’s schools will be safer for all students, faculty and staff.

— Times West Virginian, Fairmont