Although minor institutional changes have been put in place in several schools, the parents who expressed angst over the slow pace school security measures have been approved in Worcester County have a right to be concerned.
It’s only been a month since the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Conn., but we agree with the parents that significant changes should already be in place in the local school systems.
This is perhaps the latest example of how government operates at an incredibly slow pace. We believe the County Commissioners should already have a proposal before them to consider, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon it appears.
With any significant changes, funding will be the concern, but we think this is a situation that merits dipping into the county’s considerable rainy day fund to execute these changes, including having resource officers in each school.
It appears any significant enhancement in school security will be discussed further during budget discussions later this spring. That’s unacceptable because that means no major changes will be seen until the next school year.
The good news is the commissioners, specifically Commission President Bud Church, have indicated doing nothing of significance is the only option that will not be considered. Church was just five miles from Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14 and he has said in recent weeks the incident shook him tremendously. Church, a former president of the Board of Education who has grandkids in the local school system, told Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson the commissioners were willing to discuss new measures, including additional funding. “I never want to experience that again,” he said. “We have to do something.”
At this week’s Board of Education meeting, school system officials maintained the county’s security committee is meeting regularly and trying to craft realistic and legitimate solutions to keep children and teachers safe. Patience was urged amid assurances the school system will have a proposal before the County Commissioners in the near future.
“We’re not just giving lip-service to this but we’re also not going to take a kneejerk reaction,” said Board of Education President Bob Rothermel.
Perhaps therein is the problem, as the parents who spoke out this week, and they are supported by hundreds who feel the same way, want to see immediate and visible changes. Police being on hand as students arrive in the mornings is just not enough to assuage fears.
The perceived lack of urgency in crafting new security measures is a common concern in the community, but patience is a virtue and we believe Worcester County, as well as Wicomico and Sussex counties, will do what they have to do to ensure the greatest level of safety in our schools.
The perception is it’s not being done fast enough, but we have to remember executing major changes cannot be done immediately because of all the contributing factors that come into play, including fiscal constraints as well as practical issues that we probably have not considered. Residents need to keep applying the pressure but also should understand the effort is well underway.