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Local leaders weigh in on school safety

Tragedy in Connecticut heightens awareness

December 18, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

The school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn. has created shockwaves of sadness across the country. It has also served as a reminder for local school leaders to stay on top of their security and crisis plans.

Marvin Wade, superintendent of the Marshalltown Community School District, said they update their emergency response and crisis management plans yearly, but this tragedy will push them to look it over again.

"When something like this happens we go back and see if there is anything we can learn from it," Wade said. "It heightens our awareness of being vigilant."

Article Photos

The squad car of the School Resource Officer at Marshalltown High School is parked in front of the school Monday. Also pictured is the flag at half mast due to the tragedy in Connecticut.

Since the tragedy, Wade has had several conversations with Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper.

"We've talked about the importance to continue to look at the plans and keep in communication with each other," Wade said.

The district continues to look at ways to enhance security, including ways to make the perimeter of the schools safer, locked doors, secured access systems, staff training and other measures. Wade said they don't feel the schools should be turned into a military base with high fences.

"Our schools are public hubs of the community," Wade said.

Dianne Anderson, superintendent at East Marshall schools, said she visited with her school principals Friday to talk about updating their crisis plans after the tragedy and also has been in contact with Kim Elder, director of Marshall County Emergency Management, for assistance.

"I think it's something that we definitely have to continue to look at to see how we can make it safer for kids and staff," Anderson said.

She said she's not sure what needs to be done in schools - whether it be metal detectors, more secured entrances, police officers on site or more training for staff.

"All of those things can be looked at," Anderson said.

Ben Petty, superintendent of both BCLUW and GMG school districts, also said incidents like what happened in Connecticut will lead them to reevaluating crisis plans in both districts.

"At times like these it maybe a good time to pull those out and look at them again," Petty said.

Petty has notified staff in the two districts that he will be looking into possibly installing secured entrances into the school buildings.

"If nothing else, it serves as a reminder that these types of things happen at random locations and times and we can't think any of us are immune to it," Petty said.



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