Joco Opinion

Editorial: Improve security for all Shawnee Mission schools

Properly so, Shawnee Mission School District officials are examining ways to make their buildings safer for students, teachers, administrators and visitors.

Current plans estimate the ongoing effort to add security upgrades at numerous facilities could cost $20 million and take four to six years to complete. However, school officials hope to finish the task in 2015 if voters endorse a $223 million bond issue in a January mail-in ballot.

The improved security plan is part of an effort to react to parents’ concerns after dozens of shootings have occurred at school buildings across the nation in the past decade. In addition, schools are trying to make it more difficult for unwanted visitors to get into buildings.

In the Shawnee Mission district, John Douglass has been taking the case for enhanced security to the public in recent meetings. Douglass is the district’s director of safety and security and a former Overland Park police chief.

His best point is that the schools need to be proactive in responding to potential threats. Other local districts, such as Blue Springs on the Missouri side, successfully have asked patrons to approve more funds for security improvements.

It’s also notable that parents support these initiatives even as educators and state officials debate how to deal with Kansas revenue shortfalls caused by excessive tax breaks approved by Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature.

State budget director Shawn Sullivan said last week, for instance, that schools needed to reduce spending outside the classroom.

As the Shawnee Mission project shows, though, it also can make plenty of sense to use funds in that way to help provide a safe learning environment.