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Forsan ISD looks for answers in Newtown's wake

January 15, 2013

FORSAN — When it comes to student safety and security procedures, Forsan Independent School officials don't consider “good” good enough.

A review of safety and security protocols in the school district left officials giving FISD a passing grade, but they were quick to add improvements could and probably will be made — up to and including the possibility of arming district personnel.

“I'd give us a 'B',” FISD Superintendent Randy Johnson said after trustees conducted a review of student safety policies at their meeting Monday night. “I think there's a lot of positive things that have been in place here for years. But there's a new awareness that has led us to have some good, necessary discussions and will hopefully lead us in the future to getting an 'A'.”

The “new awareness” Johnson spoke of is that, in the wake of last month's school massacre in Connecticut, educators' worst nightmare — students being gunned down in their classroom — is no longer a hypothetical situation to discuss but a possibility that must be taken seriously.

While Johnson was hesitant to talk specifics on certain emergency response procedures, he did say two hot-button topics — arming of district personnel and increasing law enforcement presence around the campuses — are now on the table.

“The idea of arming teachers is something that scares me to death,” Johnson said. “But I'm afraid schools are being forced to think of some things they never had to before. Will we look at some kind of policy that allows certain people on campus to carry firearms? Yes. Hopefully, we'll receive some sort of guidelines from the state in the coming weeks.”

With Forsan campuses being miles away from the nearest emergency first responder, Johnson also supports the idea of increasing law enforcement presence near to the district.

“We are looking into several different options,” he said. “Do we have a specific plan in place? No, but we would love to have a permanent law enforcement presence in the community.”

Increasing student security also is one of the driving forces behind plans for a new elementary campus which would be situated adjacent to the junior high/high school. Elbow Elementary, which is approximately 15 miles away from Forsan and roughly 10 miles away from law enforcement officials in Big Spring, has been a security concern for FISD officials for decades.

Johnson recalled when the school was forced into lockdown following an intruder alert a few years ago.

“I promise you, I did not follow the speed limit, but it still took me several minutes to get there,” Johnson said. “Law enforcement did a wonderful job — they were there before I was — but it is still an area of concern for us.

“I will feel a lot more comfortable getting the campuses more in proximity to each other,” he added.

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