The December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut brought renewed attention to school security. While no security plan can guarantee absolute protection at all times, we have confidence in the safety of Dougherty County Schools.
The system is the only one in our area with its own police force of 24 officers. Monday, we featured Lt. Ted Thomas in a story about school security. He’s a fine example of the benefits of having fulltime officers in schools.
Lt. Thomas is dedicated not only to protecting kids, but helping them succeed in school and in life. He worked for years as a school resource officer for the Albany Police Department before joining the school police force when it formed.
He builds relationships with students so they are comfortable telling him about potential problems in school. They also often give him information that helps solve or prevent crimes away from campus.
Having armed officers at all middle and high schools at all times makes them safer. While officers aren’t stationed full time at elementary schools, that is something school leaders say they will look at as they review their security plans this year as they continue to work to make sure that all Dougherty County students are safe at school.
The proposed plan to close three Dougherty County Schools naturally is very shocking.
Especially to those who have children who attend the schools being recommended for closure or modification.
It has been good to see large turnouts of citizens for the two public hearings to talk about this controversial plan.
The common complaint from citizens at these hearings is the school board is moving too fast.
With a decision of this magnitude, it is important for school board members to take their time and consider every aspect of this issue before casting their vote.
Whatever decision the board makes, the fact that our community is having to consider closing schools should be a call to action.
We need to find out why parents and students are leaving our system by the hundreds each year and what we can to do to get them to return.
A strong school system is the foundation for a community’s economic, intellectual and cultural way of life.
The exodus from the Dougherty County School System is a clear indicator too many people have lost confidence in the system’s ability to educate our kids.
Therefore we urge everyone in the community to join forces with the new school board and work to rebuild our system into one that will be envied instead of criticized.
Written by Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB.