Illustration by Sam Barton
On Dec. 14, 2012, an active shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., killing 20 elementary school students and 6 teachers. Although earlier school shootings across the country had prompted schools to examine their safety measures, the size of the Sandy Hook tragedy spurred many districts to make substantial changes.
Kettering City Schools is one of those districts.
A committee of 25 Kettering figures – teachers, administrators, board members, parents and police officers – assembled after the Sandy Hook incident to analyze the security levels of Kettering schools and discuss district wide reform. After months of deliberation, a policy was accepted and put into effect.
“We took a calm and measured approach to re-evaluate our safety and security in the district in light of recent events, which meant Sandy Hook,” said Jim Schoenlein, superintendent of Kettering City Schools. “We had to re-evaluate, keeping in mind that there are crazies in this country who will shoot their way into an elementary school and try to kill as many little kids as they can.”
The security plan introduces a variety of changes to the district, including the construction of new entrances and fences, changes in accessibility at the schools, and new safety training for teachers.
Schoenlein said school security likely will continue to be debated in Kettering and across the country because the stakes are so high and the opinions about what is best are so varied.
“There are no wrong answers,” the superintendent said. “You just have to sit down and look at the research, what experts say, and what other people are doing and make the best call that you can to make the kids as safe as they can possibly be and still have school.”