This newspaper considered a comprehensive story about school safety in the Public Schools of Robeson County following the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
But we took a pass because we didn’t want to give any sick minds an idea.
We were pleased to report on a presentation by Stephen Gaskins, an assistant superintendent for the school system, to the Board of Education on Tuesday, during which he said safety enhancements are being made at all of the public schools, and that local law enforcement agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office and police departments, were being consulted. But, as Gaskins and schools Superintendent Johnny Hunt warned, money is tight.
The next day, there was more school news, this coming from the City Council’s policy meeting when $2,000 of discretionary money was provided to Tanglewood Elementary School for safety improvements. Erich Hackney contributed $1,000 and Mayor Raymond Pennington and Councilman Don Metzger $500 each — a gesture that followed a request from the president of the school’s PTA.
Hackney, Pennington, Metzger and the PTA president at Tanglewood have provided a template that we hope other schools — and our county commissioners — will follow. Every school in this county is situated inside a district of a county commissioner and, as has been reported frequently in this newspaper, our commissioners are flush with your cash in their discretionary funds, receiving $40,000 each year to distribute as they please and without a vote of the board.
We can think of no better use of some of that money than to improve security at local schools. It’s easy enough to lobby these elected officials to do so. Here are the commissioners, districts, and their phone numbers: Chairman Noah Woods, District 4, 910-521-9006; Raymond Cummings, District 5, 910-521-4934; Tom Taylor, District 7, 910-739-6403; David Edge, District 6, 910-258-1166; Lance Herndon, District 8, 910-733-5482; Roger Oxendine, District 3, 910-628-8667; Jerry Stephens, District 1, 910-671-1991; and Hubert Sealey, District 2, 910-628-5923.
You can visit http://www.co.robeson.nc.us/comis.htmif for more telephone options and to find out — if you are unsure — which commissioner represents your district or school. We trust that the commissioners, as overpaid public servants, will be glad to hear from you.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect defense to the forces that collide to produce the kind of violence that this nation saw on Dec. 14 at a Connecticut town not much different than those found in Robeson County. But that doesn’t relieve a community of its duty to do all it can to take the necessary precautions.
A few dollars can go a long way toward improving safety — and providing peace of mind for students, parents and educators at our local schools, which is worth a lot during these troubling times.