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Newport Superintendent Opposes Arming Teachers, but District Examining Its Security

At its most recent meeting, the Newport board of education heard from Superintendent Kelly Middleton on school safety.

Middleton said that he already requested a school safety audit from the Kentucky Department of Education even before the tragic shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left seventeen people, mostly students, dead.   

"I felt it was time to look at things, see how we are doing and how we can improve," said Middleton.

Results of the audit are still coming in but Middleton outlined a few items.

Identification badges were worn consistently by some employees, but not by others, the report found. Middleton said that now, badges are a must for visitors, substitute teachers, and vendors, as well as anyone trying to enter any of the district's schools.

If an employee forgets his or her badge, a temporary badge will be provided.

Additional security measures have been implemented, too.

"We changed the front entrance of the high school to make it easier to see the person asking to be buzzed in," said Middleton. "We have always had good security, but now we're getting tighter on everything. We are going to be very strong."

Doors had previously not been locked consistently, particularly classroom doors, but that will change, too, Middleton said.

He also announced his opposition to arming teachers.

"I am totally against arming teachers," he said. "We have a great school resource officer, Scott Wiggins, in the high school, which is grades 7 through 12. It is a good idea to think about getting more officers into all the schools, but with the state cutting so much, we wouldn't know how to afford that. It is a great idea though. So is possibly getting retired officers to come protect the school. I am not saying no to anything. We are looking at everything to protect our kids."

In other business, financial officer Tete Turner said the district would soon issue a $2.5 million bond to take on four projects: district-wide cameras and security monitoring systems, the Newport High School cafeteria remodel, renovations to Newport Primary School's restrooms, and entryways to the primary and intermediate schools.

The Newport High School wrestling team was also honored for their achievements in the recently concluded season.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Newport wrestling team (RCN)