2012-12-24 / Front Page

In wake of tragedy, LISD officials remain focused on school safety

By Terry Cannon

Even though it has been nearly two weeks since the unspeakable horror unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the national numbness lingers.

A shooting rampage of any kind is going to leave sadness in its wake, yet when the victims are children, the heartache is almost impossible to soothe.

Parents always carry the burden of being worried for their children. It arrives the moment the child is born and never leaves. This is why the Sandy Hook tragedy has affected parents deeper than it has others.

Mothers and fathers routinely send their children to school and perhaps at one time, took it for granted that they would be safe for the next several hours.

The world, however, has become a harder place during the past few decades.

School officials are always on the alert to any type of threat to their campuses.

Lindale ISD officials said the district tries to be proactive in its approach to safety.

“There are several things we do to make sure that each of our campuses is a safe environment,’’ said Superintendent Stan Surratt. “We always have a safety audit every two years where an outside company comes in and makes sure we are doing all we can to ensure the well being of our children.’’

And while human threats are all too real, the district also tries to make sure each campus is prepared in case of other type of emergencies.

“Each school has periodic drills,’’ he said. “They (campus officials) are taught what to do in case of a severe storm or intruder…things of that nature.’’

Many safety measures have been in place for several years, Surratt said, including making sure visitors check in with the proper identification when they enter the building.

Surratt also said that the LISD Board of Trustees will discuss school safety during its next board meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14.

“We are willing to take suggestions from anyone concerning these safety issues,’’ Surratt said. “What we have to do is work through it and not overreact.’’

Surratt said the district receives safety suggestions on a regular basis from parents and citizens, ranging from locking the buildings to armed security at every campus.

“There’s just no way to do all of the things that are suggested,’’ he said. “It’s simply not realistic to believe that you are going to have a perfectly safe system.’’

While Surratt and LISD officials feel the district’s campuses are safe, there is always a need to evaluate all plans that are in place.

And it’s only natural, he said, for educators in Lindale and all across the country to experience a depth of sadness unique to anywhere else.

“(The shooting) makes everyone so sad, so depressed to see those precious young children taken from us,’’ he said. “But the reality is that we can’t live in a bubble.

“Maybe the best thing to come out of this tragedy is schools everywhere are going to look again at their safety measures and look at more ways to make things safer.’’

But, in the final analysis, Surratt knows the LISD has the best defense of all: its personnel.

“You can have all the procedures you want in place, but without the right personnel it simply won’t work,’’ he said. “Our staff does a wonderful job of following our safety procedures and keeping an eye on our students.

“The best defense we have is our staff loving and taking care of our children.’’

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