Friday, April 22, 2016, by Richard Weber, Publisher of the Arlington Spectator
This is the final question in our series.
Early Voting for the city council and school board races start this Monday, April 25 and ends Tuesday, May 3. Election Day is Saturday, May 7.
The two AISD Place 4 candidates were asked: In your opinion, are further improvements in school security needed? If so, please describe and explain possible funding.
John Hibbs, incumbent, AISD Place 4
It is absolutely necessary to constantly review security and safety procedures. The AISD meets regularly with the APD, State, and Federal officials to review Safety and Security plans. This includes the need for additional officers, resources and security personnel. The Board reviews with the Administration all recommendations. Safety is first and foremost to every Trustee and Administrator. It is important to rely on the experts to lay out security needs and action plans and inform the board what is most appropriate. The APD is among the finest in the nation and I respect the plan that they have helped to develop for our schools.
Luis Castillo, challenger, AISD Place 4
A resounding YES for security improvements. Particularly at our elementary schools. Anyone who says that no improvements are needed is in all likelihood sadly out of touch with the real world.
Presently high schools and junior high schools have a police officer on campus. These police officers are commonly known as School Resource Officers (SRO). The SRO program is jointly funded on a 50% basis between AISD and the City of Arlington. A police officer on campus makes a whole lot of difference. It could mean the difference between life and death. And anyone with real-world police or security experience will tell you that. Sure every school is equipped with access control entry and video surveillance camera systems, but these systems are inadequate. Imagine this for a minute. If a bad person wants to commit a massacre at a given school, which school do you think he’ll choose to carry out his evil crime? A school with access control entry and video surveillance camera systems or a school with a police officer on campus? This is not rocket science.
Remember the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre that occurred almost 4 years ago? Well, that school had entry control and a video surveillance camera system in place. That didn’t stop the intruder. What stopped the intruder was the presence of a police officer. Four minutes after the shooting started, the first police officer arrived at Sandy Hook elementary school. Within a minute, the shooter shot himself. However, in approximately four minutes the shooter managed to kill six women adults and 20 children ages 6 or 7 years old.
AISD elementary schools have access control entry and video surveillance camera systems. They do not have a police officer stationed on campuses. Why not? Simply put, because it costs money. Someone may have decided that it’s better to take chances with the lives of our kids and staff then to address a security deficiency. The complacent atmosphere is so prevalent on the Board of Trustees and the administration that that in itself is a security threat. The reality is that elementary schools are vulnerable to external threats.
A peace officer at elementary schools would be a huge security improvement. The peace officer’s main purpose would be to deter and confront external threats. It will offer our kids and staff a chance for someone to defend them from external threats.
Possible funding mechanisms may include the following:
The key thing for this security enhancement initiative is to first and foremost get the Board to sign off on it. Once the initiative is approved, then the administration can focus on the funding mechanisms. There are approximately 35,741 students enrolled at AISD elementary schools. I do not believe that at a minimum of $70 per student per year is asking too much to provide security to our most valuable resources – our kids.
Richard Weber, publisher of the Arlington Spectator, is that rare citizen who devotes time to civic duty and involvement. For doing so, he receives little thanks. Most citizens have more important things on their minds—TV, football, enjoying their retirement, etc. Not Richard. You’ll find him at City Council afternoon and evening sessions, at school board meetings, publishing Arlington Spectator, and helming AARG (Arlington Alliance for Responsible Government). Richard is a citizen who believes taxpayers should have a voice in government and his selfless effort is one of the things that inspired us to begin publishing Opinion Arlington.