A few of us attended the open forum on April 30 about the schools' policies and procedures for school safety. I came away from the meeting feeling better, but still have some nagging concerns.
Since the forum, I have done a bit of investigating about some policies in other schools. One school's policies stand out, especially. Fort Scott Middle School in Fort Scott, Kan. has two policies that really should be considered here, at both the middle school and the high school.
First, no student carries a backpack.
Second, jackets are never allowed in the classrooms. Yes, the school in Fort Scott has lockers. Each student has a locker, either for single use (eighth-graders) or shared use (sixth- and seventh-graders). Lockers are the school's property, so, of course, can be searched at random.
These two solutions are so simple and obvious. It has always been a mystery to me that the lockers were removed at the junior high before it opened as a middle school. I have since learned that lockers are not available to all of the high school students, either.
We really do need to investigate the possibility of instituting the aforementioned policies. Yes, it will cost the district money to provide lockers. I know that school funding is far from adequate already, but our children's safety at school has to be a top priority.
To the principals of the high school and middle school, and to the district, I urge you to look into the possibility of providing adequate lockers for both schools so that similar policies can be put in place here.
The wide-open campuses at the middle school and high school remain a concern for me. I felt less satisfied after the forum when I learned that one police officer serves as the resource officer for ALL of the schools in Payson. He does a fine job, but, obviously, he can't be on all campuses at once. I urge the district to look further into a solution in this area.
It's been a few weeks now since the tragedy in Littleton. We are already beginning to slip into a comfortable denial that it "can't happen here" and that we have the best possible policies in place. I, for one, do not intend to let that denial become part of my thought processes.
All of the schools in Payson have caring faculties and staffs. They have excellent programs in place for discipline and support. I appreciate that, but contend that is simply not the entire answer.
We cannot expect public education to solve the problems of society. We can expect our district, though, to consider all reasonable suggestions for the physical safety of our children.