Lincoln leaders discuss school safety - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Lincoln leaders discuss school safety

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By: Sabrina Ahmed 

Gun violence has been the hot topic in schools across the country.  Today, Lincoln's leaders took on a conversation about what can be done in our community.

They just got the ball rolling.  There weren't any decisions made.

While everyone has their own ideas about what's best for security in schools, the question keeps coming up: how will we pay for it?

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary shocked the country and made a lot of people realize how vulnerable our schools are.  The Lincoln City Council and LPS school board started a discussion about what can be done to make that less so here.

"We spend a little over 2 million dollars a year in security and quite frankly we could spend double, or even triple that and still not get to where everybody would say, okay, now we've got the answers addressed," Superintendent Dr. Joel said.

So how do you decide what the most important step is when money is so tight?  Some say School Resource Officers are the answer.  2,000 incidents happen every year that require an officer to go to a school.

"They're approachable, they're hearing things that we would not know about otherwise, and it's a very frequent circumstance—virtually every day, we'll find out about something or hear something that we're able to intervene in proactively," Public Safety Director Tom Casady said.

But School Resource Officers cost about $80,000 each a year.  There's one in each of the six Lincoln high schools, and they'd like to see them in more schools.  There are 72 k-12 schools in Lincoln.

Superintendent Steve Joel said he's not positive this is the best option.  If Lincoln gets federal funding, he'd like to explore other choices, like secured entrances, cameras, or mental health issues and school counselors, even just helping to meet the basic needs of children.

"If we can intervene quicker in terms of family support and helping kids deal with mental health issues, would we have a different result? probably, but not quite sure how to facilitate that," Dr. Joel said.

There are many more options for the schools and this is just the beginning of the conversation about what needs to be done.  Federal funding might come into play in the near future.  Many more studies need to be conducted before decisions are made.

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