Knox Co. Commission approves $195K school security boost

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- School safety has been fresh on the minds of many since August's shooting at Central High School.

County Commissioners voted Monday on whether or not to fund school safety enhancements.

School superintendent Jim McIntyre is no exception when it comes to safety being a number one concern. The Knox County School Board agreed to ask the Knox County Commission for specific safety enhancements.

The eight main categories total up to nearly $195,000. The superintendent wants to hire additional security officers, add video monitoring systems, purchase walk through and handheld metal detectors, implement an information incentive program, fund professional development, expand the home visit program, and do a comprehensive school security review.

All of the additions, some parents say, are necessary no matter the cost.

Dionne Fields says safety is already on her mind after the shooting at Central High School, despite the fact that her son isn't even in school yet.

Fields says, "Safety is more important. You can't learn if you're not safe. That's any child at any age."

And Fields’ thoughts were echoed today by the Knox County Commission, who voted to approve the nearly $195,000 for school safety enhancements.

Commissioner Larry Smith thanked Dr. McIntyre for his efforts. “It's been a rocky start, but you've handled everything really well."

Some commissioners did still have questions on the different changes the superintendent wants to make.

Commissioner Ed Shouse asked, "Will you elaborate briefly on the home visits? I see 300 home visits and I just wonder with KPD administrators and sheriff's department."

McIntyre responds, "When a student gets essentially in a crisis situation, exhibits behavior or is in a crisis situation, we sometimes do a home visit. Visit with the parents, and talk with them about where the student is and what's going on with them."

But McIntyre wants to have the funding cover 300 overtime hours to send administrators to homes as steps of prevention rather than crisis management. And he wants them to be accompanied by law enforcement and even clergy to hopefully help a child before a situation gets worse.

As a mother, Fields says, "I really don't think safety for children should really even be thought about as money. Money is priceless for children."

Superintendent McIntyre says he's pleased the County Commission was able to allocate the money. He says he does not know how soon they will get the funds, but he says as soon as they do, they will start the safety changes in the schools.

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