The school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has caused us as a school community and as a community at large great sadness. Our primary responsibility and top priority each day is to do our best as employees of the school system to keep our children safe. When someone is mentally unstable and/or enters the campus armed and with intent to cause harm to others, it does create an atmosphere in our learning environment to which we may or may not be able to control the outcome, no matter how much we practice or provide preventative measures. With this said, we as educational leaders and guarded with the important task of providing a safe learning environment for every student, must do our best to ensure that we have put in place the necessary preventative action steps that we have available at the current date.

Today, Dec. 17, 2012, members of the administrative team and leadership team met for a briefing meeting at 9 a.m. School safety has already been set as a goal at the beginning of this school year, as it is every year, to review procedures and plans, set dates for practices for crisis drills, and discuss situations with our resource officers that are housed on our campus. School resource officers are planning to visit each school campus and provide more training to all employees regarding school shootings and intruders on campus. Other topics discussed involved buzzer entry systems at each building being installed in the future, more security cameras being installed, and more district-wide crisis drills that involve everyone including community crisis leaders and communicating crisis drills to parents and guardians for communication purposes.

Safety reminders, that the Lonoke School District already has in place for the protection of students and staff members, are as follows: All parents, grandparents, community members and guests should enter the front of the school buildings only when visiting the schools and check in with the front office. A pass should be given to you by the secretary or building administrator if you are eating lunch with your child or grandchild. If you are picking your child/grandchild up from school, your child will be called to the office. You may be asked to show proof of ID if you are not recognized by a school employee. Doors to classrooms will be locked at all times, and will not be unlocked unless the office has contacted the teacher/substitute to unlock it.

Please remember that your child/grandchild must be signed out of the office if you are checking him/her out early and signed back in as well. If you are not on the permission list to sign a child out of school, you will not be allowed to do so without contacting the parent/guardian of the student. Please send a note if your child is to ride a different bus or go home with someone besides the normal routine person or route. Report any stranger you notice on campus that looks suspicious to school authority personnel as soon as possible.

Once again, we at Lonoke School District are filled with sadness for the families in Newtown over the loss of their loved ones and for the school and community. Tragedies such as this should never happen. Senseless violence is hard to comprehend, but we want to keep our daily routines in place as much as possible so that our children are not placed in a situation where they feel unsafe. As you reflect upon this tragic situation, please feel free to contact our administrative team members on any ideas you may have to improve safety at Lonoke School District. We welcome your thoughts and support in our efforts to do our best for the safety of each student that is entrusted to us.