After discussion about whether to start posting unarmed security guards at public elementary schools, the Wake County Board of Education members decided Tuesday to delay the vote for another meeting.
This week, the Wake County Public Schools Department of Security publicly announced its recommendation for security guards in elementary schools. Parents and community members immediately decried the proposal for a variety of reasons.
The Great Schools in Wake Coalition, which was an active supporter of the old diversity-based school assignment model, released a statement Monday saying “Where is community involvement on this issue? Why the rush to vote when there is no evidence that demonstrates that security officers will make schools safer?”
At Tuesday’s work session, John Tedesco and Debra Goldman were absent, and Deborah Prickett arrived after the discussion. Keith Sutton said it would not be fair to those who missed the discussion to have to vote on the recommendation, and tabled the vote until a later date.
According to Russ Smith, senior director of security, the No. 1 request, based on parent feedback for elementary schools, was that they wanted their schools to be locked at all times.
“The purpose of those security officers would allow the schools to lock all doors to the schools, which is currently not being done at our schools,” he said.
The officer would be placed at the front of the school or a certain place within the school to screen and sign in all visitors. This process currently varies by school.
Martin said while it’s not the plan he would have suggested, he has become its unlikely champion.
“I think we can all agree we want teachers in the classroom, not monitoring hallways and doors,” he said.
Compared to the annual salary of a teacher or teacher assistant to fill the role, an unarmed security officer would be more economical, he said.
“This is one of the most cost-effective personnel solutions that might exist,” Martin said.
But Kevin Hill expressed desire to spend the money on infrastructure, bringing older schools up to date with the security features found at more modern schools.
Goldman previously said she’d prefer armed security guards rather than unarmed ones.
The Wake Board of Commissioners said, as quoted by WRAL, it was another example of wasteful spending by the school board.