FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - A north metro county is taking a different approach to school safety by making improvements to staff rather than the buildings.
Jeff Bearden, the superintendent of Forsyth County schools, says the greatest problem facing schools today is not the safety of the buildings.
“It’s the fact that we have children in crisis throughout our nation who believe that harming themselves, harming others or both is a viable option and we have to change that mindset,” Bearden said.
Bearden and Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman put together a task force to assess school safety.
The task force recommended hiring six trained professionals, who will work directly with high risk students they’ve already identified and with their families.
“We wanted to make sure that we had six people district wide that do nothing but this. Those children will be their children, so they can cope with whatever is going on with their life,” Bearden said.
Funding is already in next year’s budget. Voters in Forsyth County are being asked to approve a $295 million bond, with $7 million of that money allocated for safety.
They are also considering increasing the amount of school resource officers to two at each high school.
“Our high schools in Forsyth County are relatively large and that’s a lot for one school resource officer to handle,” Freeman said.
Resource officers came under scrutiny following the massacre at Parkland High School in Florida, where one was accused of not going into the school to confront the gunman.
Freeman says that’s not an option in Forsyth County.
“Our deputies are 100% crystal clear they will run to the sound of gunfire. They will be there they will protect these kids. I have no doubt of that,” he said.
The district also plans to use the bond money to expand on lockdown drills, standardize procedures for visitor check-in, double entries for new schools, put security film on windows, add additional badge readers and add locking doors.
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