- Special Sections
- Public Notices
I am writing today as one member of your school board and as a retired police officer. I want to inform you of the progress through the cooperative effort of the Roane County Board of Education, the County Commission, local county and municipal law enforcement agencies, and the Roane County Office of Emergency Services concerning the safety of your children at school.
Your children are safer at school than anywhere else in the nation, including your own homes.
Statistically, 98 percent of child-related fatalities nationwide happen outside of school (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010).
That is an outstanding record for the security of our schools and a testament to our teachers, administrators and law enforcement personnel.
However, as we have tragically observed and obviously know, being in that 2 percent is devastating for any parent, system or community.
The legislative bodies are responsible for policy and funding school security, and law enforcement officers are responsibility for protecting our students.
We need to plan and be held accountable for providing for the best possible prevention of any method of violence or incidents where we have the capability exists.
Anything less is unacceptable.
Keep in mind that, for the security of the students, full details of our plans will not be made public.
We are in the process of analyzing the security of our school system and defining the needs without making our schools an armed fortress.
One of the desired goals would be to place school resource officers in every school based on available funding. This would require an additional 12 officers.
The two primary functions of the SRO program are the safety of students and staff along with developing a positive relationship between police officers and students.
It is my belief that it would be great to see the SRO in a full uniform 60 percent of the time versus the “soft uniform” — such as polo shirts and khaki pants — presently worn.
Developing the trust between our children and the uniform is vital. It is important for a uniform presence at extracurricular events such as athletic events, where the general public is in attendance.
We are also examining our facilities to determine necessary physical improvements. Some are as simple as improving existing structures.
Others consist of revising and implementing policies ensuring we are addressing the needs of our students and faculty through advanced training.
Approval of the final recommendations will require cooperation of the county executive, county commission, school board and the community to make our schools as safe as possible.
We are in the process of preparing multiagency response plans for responding to the worst-case scenarios.
No one agency in this county has the resources to properly handle any type of serious incidents such as a mass casualty industrial or school incident. Every agency needs to understand their responsibility should such a situation arise.
We intend to have a full dress rehearsal in the future to assess the effectiveness of the developed plan. We will continually evaluate and work to improve the plan.
The school board has asked Schools Director Gary Aytes to schedule meetings in the communities providing you the opportunity to voice your concerns, ask questions, and to inform you of our progress.
We encourage you to attend and voice your concerns. All meetings start at 6 p.m. and the schedule is:
• March 7, Ridge View Elementary School.
• March 14, Cherokee Middle School.
• April 1, Dyllis Springs Elementary School.
• April 3, Bowers Elementary School.
We are working to ensure the safety of our most precious resource — children. Many of these improvement are not free and come with a cost.
We are working to keep these costs to a minimum and implement those we can without any additional cost without sacrificing your children’s security.
We are aware of our shortcomings and the responsibilities in protecting students.
This knowledge increases our liability if we fail to prepare for the future.
The sub-committee established to address these issues includes County Commissioner Randy Ellis, Roane County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tim Phillips, Lt. Daryl Cook, School Supervisor Russell Jenkins, EMA Director Howie Rose and Kingston Police Chief Jim Washam.
We are blessed to have such valuable homegrown resources.
Each takes this responsibility seriously.
Danny Wright, chairman
School safety committee