WNYT.com

School safety forum held in Ballston Spa

Posted at: 01/24/2013 11:51 PM
Updated at: 01/25/2013 12:59 PM
By: Jessica Layton

BALLSTON SPA - Parents Sean and Angela  -- who asked we not use their last name -- haven't slept well since Dec. 14.

"Everyday I think about it," said Sean.

The mere mention of Newtown makes them emotional and stirs up worry for her own two children.

They were listening intently Thursday night as teachers, mental health experts and even law enforcement addressed concerns about gun violence.

"I'm hoping to get answers here to see what steps they're taking to secure our kids more," said Sean.

He says having an armed guard at the school would give him peace of mind. It's a controversial proposal being raised in communities across the country.

The issue of school safety was thrust into the national spotlight after Columbine. Then again, after Sandy Hook.

But for the superintendent at Shenedehowa School District,  it's front and center every day. Dr. Oliver Robinson says it's not about guns or gadgets or guards -- it's about communication with the community.

"We're trying to avoid the temptation to engage in knee jerk reaction. Our challenge is recognizing there are different viewpoints and trying to do what's reasonable," said Robinson.

"It's a cultural change. And I think we have to address that and find ways to correct the ills and to continue to make schools a safe place," said NYSUT Vice President and 30-year educator Kathleen Donahue.

Because for parents like Sean and Angela, there's only one bottom line.

"I just want to be sure our babies are safe. Just keep our babies safe," Angela said.

Many schools that have cut the school resource officer program in the past because of cost are now considering putting that back in the budget. So you may very well start to see state troopers or local police officers roaming the hallways of your child's school again

Under the new gun law in New York, schools have to submit safety plans to a what the state is calling its school safety improvement team.