Yesterday evening, I attended the Safety Task Force Meeting at the Octorara Administration Office. The meeting included parents concerned about school security, and an update on what is going on with grants and other issues. Dr. Newcome moderated the discussion.
I felt it was necessary to engage with a group that has passionately and religiously worked towards the goal of acquiring an armed School Resource Officer. It was important they understood where I was at this moment, and give them the opportunity to influence my opinion. I can’t say that I am any closer to supporting armed security at Octorara, but the conversation created solutions that had not previously been considered, and are ones that I could be more comfortable supporting.
What we absolutely need is more people involved in this discussion, for and against. Do you believe that the only peace of mind you will have, with your kids at school, is armed security? Do you think armed security is a step too far? Email the School Directors in your Region, and Dr. Newcome, with your comments and concerns. It doesn’t have to be anything more than “I support the armed security proposal,” or “I do not support the armed security proposal.”
The reality is this debate completely revolves around “what-ifs” and statistics. On one hand, we know school is the safest place for your child to be, and Octorara is a safe school. The statistics show, with a high probability, that a homicide or mass shooting is extremely unlikely at Octorara. However, no matter how unlikely, it is still possible. Statistics cannot tell us absolutely what will happen tomorrow. If (the big if) this kind of occurrence happens, immediately it will be a matter of shoulda, coulda, woulda.
This is why it is so very important to get public input. Every day, our society makes choices of value vs cost. There are many actions government could do to make our lives safer, and more secure, but it doesn’t. Hundreds of lives could be saved each year if the maximum speed limit was reduced to 25 mph. We don’t do it, and we know with certainty it would save lives.
Therefore, in a situation with little probability, and a case of “you’ll need it when you need it,” it is very important for the community to speak out one way or another. Are you willing to pay more in taxes for a possible but improbable what-if? How much should peace of mind cost?
At yesterday’s Safety Task Force Meeting, the idea of a police substation on campus developed. The notion was for the District to provide a local police department with space, and they use the space as an office to do paperwork. Doesn’t sound like much, but it really is a great compromise. It provides peace of mind that there is an added police presence, and faster response times, without turning the District into (what some may consider) an armed camp. Best of all, it is all done at the cost of some space. If it can be done, it could be a win-win.
I don’t think there is any doubt, in anyone’s mind, that I am a budget hawk. There has to be an absolute need to spend tax dollars, and I am not convinced at this point there is a need for armed security at Octorara. One day, in the near future, every board member will have to commit to a vote. If you want to make an impact on that decision, I ask you participate in the discussion by taking the time to email or call the School Directors.
The Safety Task Force Meeting is every first Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m. in the District Office Conference Room. Everyone in the community is invited to attend.