Lack of money due to lack of value

By Autumn Leopold

The Surveyor

While my heart is breaking for all of the parents, students and teachers involved in the most recent school shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colo., I can’t help but be angry and terrified as well. Angry that 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo felt it was his job, his duty, his responsibility to take the gunman down. Where were the teachers, the admin, the private security? Why does taking down a shooter fall now to students who are juveniles or barely adults? I am terrified because in eight years this could be my son Sam. Sam already feels at 10 years old it’s his duty to stick up for the younger kids getting bullied on the bus, at school, or at the park. At 18 he may figure it’s his job, his duty, and his responsibility to take down a school shooter. I’m here to tell him it’s not. Just like it wasn’t Kendrick Castillo’s job either. Whose job is it? It’s our job as parents. We have to take down the school shooters with the best security measures possible in our schools.   

I don’t want to talk about gun control or mental health. Both of those could take years to fix. I don’t even want to talk about how many locks are on the doors and whether they had a buzzer to get in. Since they were students they would’ve been buzzed in any way. I want to talk with parents about fighting for the value of our children’s lives.

Why is it that as a society we now seem to value the lives of our children less. We invest less in education overall, we invest less in teachers, we invest less in repairing the infrastructure of schools. We have people fighting against building new schools, taxpayers consistently vote against new taxes to help schools. We balk at the thought of armed guards protecting our children at school, yet that’s fine for prisons. Lack of money due to lack of value.      

Here’s another example of lack of value. Have you ever wondered why all of the schools in Oklahoma don’t have cellars to shelter children from tornadoes? Or at the very least the schools in Moore, Norman, and the OKC tornado alley? Even in the tiny town I grew up in in southwest Oklahoma, they had a storm shelter for the whole school. Why don’t the towns that have way more money than our small town, have shelters? Oklahoma doesn’t pay their teachers enough, let alone want to spend money on storm shelters for school. They clearly don’t see the value in children’s lives or education. Again, lack of money due to lack of value. We prioritize and pay for the things we value.

As a mom of an elementary student, I have many unanswered questions.

Why do Colorado public schools only have one armed school resource officer (SRO) – which I do appreciate – for hundreds or more students? Lack of money to pay them?

Why do some Colorado public schools have no SROs on campus? Lack of money?

Why have a system where you buzz people in if the windows are made of glass? Lack of money to harden schools?

What kind of protection do charter schools and private schools legally have to have? Private armed security? How many officers per child?

Should there be statewide regulation and training for teachers who conceal and carry? (30 Colorado school districts and charter schools allow teachers to carry guns.)

Should we hold parents or other adults responsible when their guns are used in school shootings?

Who should be held accountable when potential student shooters have been reported but the warnings aren’t taken seriously?

How much money did Thompson School District (TSD) spend on school security in 2018-2019?

How much money did each school in TSD spend on school security?

These are some of the questions we should be asking the district, local law enforcement, and local and state politicians.

As a parent, I would love to know what some of your concerns and questions are about school security.

Finally, if we value our children, their security must always come before politics. It’s clear on a national level that’s not getting done any time soon. As Coloradans, maybe we can accomplish that on a state and local level first. We need to put security at schools first, until every school has the best security possible. I want to be clear I’m not bashing TSD. I’ve read what their security plans are and they are doing a good job. Could their plans be even better with more money to spend on security? Could Larimer Country Sherriff’s Office hire more SROs to place in schools if they had more money? Of course. That’s where parents can help. We have to seek out, promote, and vote for the politicians and administrators who value our children’s and teachers’ lives and security, by not only creating and passing the laws needed, but being willing to spend the necessary money to provide the best security measures possible for every school in Colorado. We need to hold current administrators, local and state politicians accountable and let them know if they don’t value our children’s lives, our teachers’ lives, and the security overall, then we don’t value them. It’s time we arm ourselves with knowledge and not just guns.

On a lighter note: I recently visited Berthoud High School (BHS) and the first person I saw after getting buzzed in a non-glass door was the armed SRO. He then escorted me to the office to check in. That was awesome. Bravo BHS and SRO Deputy Vince Mosley; you are doing a great job!

For more information about TSD security, you can contact Safety and Security Manager Joe Vodjansky at 970-613-5661 or go to https://www.thompsonschools.org/page/974 and https://www.thompasonschools.org/page/16896

Here is a link to the Colorado School Safety Resource Center which includes links to all Colorado School Safety Legislature. Don’t just read the bill that passed, also look at which bills didn’t and why; https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cssrc/colorado-school-safety-legislation

If you are interested in learning more about what we as parents can to keep advocating for the best security possible, I recommend starting here: https://americanforclass.org/mission

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