By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Although schools are currently dismissed for the Christmas holidays, the Connecticut school shooting prompted extra security at East Bernstadt Independent Schools.
Homer Radford, who will retire as superintendent on Dec. 31, said last Friday’s shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., had an effect on his students, staff and parents and his reaction was to post security guards for the remaining two days of school this term.
“Our goal is, first of all, the safety of the students,” Radford said. “We want to treat them well and have an environment where they can learn. We have to take all the precautions necessary to protect the children because they are the most precious resource we have.”
After last Friday’s shooting that took the lives of 26 people, including 20 children, Radford said he had security guards outside the building this week, just to ensure parents that proper avenues were being taken to protect the students and staff.
“We had no reason to believe that was going to be a problem. It was just a measure to reassure the students and parents,” Radford said. “We had a security guard on each side of the campus.”
The Connecticut shootings are the prime example of “the ultimate nightmare for parents, teachers and administrators,” Radford continued. “We have policies in place and, if there ever were an intruder in the school, we would go on lock down in the classrooms. It’s something you live with every day and that’s why we have to take all precautions.”
In fact, Radford is an advocate of having trained personnel at every school to deal with potential incidents such as the Columbine, Colo., shooting and last week’s massacre in Connecticut.
“I’d like to see the legislature address this issue,” Radford said. “Banks have trained professionals, and we need trained professionals at each school.”
While Radford said he wishes school security officers were not standard, he realizes that today’s society and the school shootings that took the lives of innocent students and staff mitigates more action and awareness.
“It’s a shame that things have come to this point,” he added. “The Connecticut school where this happened was one of the most secure in the state. They had a ‘buzz in’ system. But this man broke out a window and came into the school.
“It’s beyond comprehension what happened. You do all you can, take all precautions, follow all procedures, yet it still doesn’t seem to be enough. It’s come time that more needs to be done.”
With his years of experience in the education, Radford is well versed with the financial burden that extra security would take on the school budgets. But he also realizes the safety of the students is the number one priority for the community.
“I know it would probably cause a tax increase but I really don’t think people would mind paying a little more to make sure the children are safe,” he said. “Children are our life, they’re what it’s all about. I think we should be doing whatever we have to do to make sure this never happens again.”