The time is now

We cannot wait for elected officials to act on school safety

AP PHOTO Daniel Bishop, 16, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, cries at a makeshift memorial outside the school, in Parkland, Fla.

Once again, a senseless school shooting has taken the lives of defenseless children and school staff.

As Congress debates what should be done, again, the nation is praying another irrational shooting doesn’t take place in a different community before those elected to protect us do something.

The endless Congressional debates are varied — what kind of gun, if any, people should be allowed to own; how old should a person be before they can buy a certain type of gun; what type of security systems should be in schools; should teachers be armed; do we need to expand mental health care – and the list goes on.

Perhaps it’s time we do something locally to protect kids rather than wait for the endless debating in Washington D.C. to solve the problem for us.

Let’s set an example for the nation by taking matters into our own hands and secure our schools.

It won’t be cheap, but safety for children is what’s at stake.

For approximately one dollar per thousand added to our property taxes as a separate levy in the Marshalltown School District, for example, we could hire enough school police officers to place one officer at each of the six elementary schools, two at each of the middle schools and four at the high school. Right now, we have one police officer at Marshalltown High School.

There are over 5,000 students in the Marshalltown Community School District.

I know what you might be thinking. Will adding 14 police officers to protect our schools guarantee complete safety? Obviously that guarantee cannot be made. But providing that additional protection for our students and staff would make the MCSD safer. Much safer.

I know Congress is debating several ideas on how to make schools safe, and this local levy might not even be necessary down the road because of federal funding.

But this is something we could do locally, as could other school districts elsewhere.

It could be done now.

Right now.

And it could be done without waiting for bloviating elected officials (who are all protected daily by an army of police and Secret Service) to finally act.


Mike Schlesinger is publisher of the Times-Republican.