Clarke group tackles school safety issue
Posted: January 25, 2013
The Winchester Star
BERRYVILLE — Clarke County school officials, law enforcement and concerned parents joined together Thursday to discuss school safety.
The School Board Safety and Security Committee — created on the heels of the Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting in which 26 people were killed — met for the first time.
“The five days after Newtown, the School Board office was nuts,” said Superintendent Mike Murphy, who added that some parents took their children out of school because they feared for their safety.
Due to the discussion of specific safety issues at individual schools, most of the meeting — which was held at Johnson-Williams Middle School — took place in closed session.
The short-term committee includes parents and other residents with knowledge of security and law enforcement, such as Tony Parrott, who has four children in the division and who served as a Navy policeman at Andrews Air Force Base 20 years ago.
“Seemed like a no-brainer,” he said about joining the committee. “Any time a national incident occurs like the one in Newtown, it definitely raises your attention more to the possibility it could happen.”
Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper, Berryville Police Chief Neal White, School Board member Jim Brinkmeier and county Supervisor Barbara Byrd make up the rest of the 12-person committee.
At the beginning of the meeting, Roper warned members that the topic of school security was complex and that a solution would not come quickly.
Over the course of the next two to three meetings, the committee will attempt to identify best practices related to school safety and security and identify cost and funding mechanisms to implement those practices.
Through the course of the meetings, the committee will discuss improving visitor identification, implementing additional school resource officers, and improving communication and security hardware — such as cameras — throughout the schools.
The second meeting will be held Thursday.
— Contact Rebecca Layne at email@example.com